It was nearly three years ago — November 2009 — that this site mentioned the "Stopping Trained in America Ph.D.s from Leaving the Economy Act," or the "Staple Act," which would effectively staple a green card to the diploma of foreigners who earn their doctoral degrees in America. It was mentioned here again in August 2011 as No. 11 of the 27 Ideas For Jobs and Growth, again in September of 2011 as Cost-Free-Job-Creating-Idea No. 6. Gordon Crovitz wrote a wonderful column about the idea that ran in the Wall Street Journal on October 31, 2011 after Steve Jobs discussed it with President Obama and Walter Isaacson reported that it struck Jobs as an example of political paralysis. Wrote Mr. Crovitz:
Mr. Doerr's staple-a-green-card idea has been endorsed by everyone from Mitt Romney to Chuck Schumer, the Democratic senator from New York. Rep. Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican, proposes the Staple Act (an acronym for Stopping Trained in America Ph.D.s from Leaving the Economy).
Mr. Crovitz traced the idea back to a speech by venture capitalist John Doerr in 2008.
Yesterday, the House voted on a version of this legislation. Alas, in the version that came to the floor, the increase in green cards for science and engineering graduates was to be linked to eliminating a green card lottery, keeping the net flow of immigrants into the country roughly the same. That was enough, according to a New York Times account, to deny the bill the two-thirds majority it needed to pass.
This is a perfect example of how Washington is failing. Imagine all the jobs and growth that could have been created by foreign-born scientists and engineers in America between 2008, or 2009, or 2011, and today, if the politicians in Washington in both parties had just gotten their act together and gotten this done rather than finding excuses about why it can't be done. I understand the reasons that the Constitution makes it difficult to pass laws, and that probably helps protect Americans from a lot of bad ideas, but even so, in some cases, such as this, the gridlock seems to derive not from constitutional checks and balances but rather from a lack of leadership, or from leadership that places a priority on the wrong things.