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Technology Policy Will Play Role in Campaign, Part 2

As Republicans have gathered here in New York, the focus has clearly been on issues like security, terrorism and the economy. 

Despite the seemingly low profile of technology issues in the campaign, it’s clear that the Republicans—and in fact both parties— recognize that technology is critical to the future of our nation.

An examination of the 2004 Republican platform (search) shows that the party sees an important role for technology in our economy, our environment, health care and even national security.

In its section on “Building an Innovative, Globally Competitive Economy,” the party platform points out the key issues for economic growth and addresses the importance of technology in that growth.  

“We must ensure that workers are equipped with the education and training to succeed in the best jobs of the 21st century, and we must encourage the strong spirit of innovation that has put America at the forefront of new technology industries,” the document says.

The platform contains a plank entitled, “Investing in Science, Technology and Telecommunications.” 

In it, the party recognizes the strong entrepreneurial spirit of the industry. 

“The Information Revolution is the product of the creative efforts and hard work of men and women in the private sector who have had the freedom to innovate. At the same time, we recognize the magnitude and pace of change require vigilance by government to make the most of the opportunities, mitigate the possible downsides of rapid technological advancement, and protect the technology industry from modern day pirates at home and abroad — both those who violate copyrights and those who loot by litigation.”

The platform adds that this technology revolution is only in its earliest stages and the party and the nation must seize this “historic opportunity.”

The platform also emphasizes the importance of research and development and endorses the idea of making the R&D tax credit permanent.  

Democrats also endorsed a permanent tax credit in their 2004 platform. Leaders of the technology industry have made the permanent R&D tax credit (search) a top priority. Research and development are a crucial component of the work being done by our industry, and government needs to provide more incentives for our industry to expand on the great technology advances that have been made in recent years.

The platform addresses the commitment by the Bush administration to the issue of R&D. 

“In order to maintain America’s global leadership, Republicans have provided unprecedented support for federal research and development to help spur innovation.

Federal R&D funding is up 44 percent from 2001 to $132 billion in 2005, which includes a 26 percent increase in support for basic research. The President has doubled the budget for the National Institutes of Health and increased the National Science Foundation budget by 30 percent.”

The platform also addresses the importance of broadband (search) for consumers and the economy. 

“Broadband technology will enhance our nation’s economic competitiveness and will help improve education and health care for all Americans.” 

It echoes President Bush’s call for providing every American with affordable broadband by 2007.  The document declares support for extending the Internet tax moratorium to broadband and making it permanent. It also addresses the importance of reducing burdensome regulations that discourage broadband investment. The platform emphasizes the importance of utilizing power lines and wireless Internet access to provide new opportunities for connecting American consumers. 

“Under the President’s leadership, the Administration has nearly doubled the amount of spectrum available for innovative wireless broadband applications such as Wi-Fi (search) and Wi-Max (search),” the document adds.

During the campaign, the president has also emphasized the importance of lower taxes, free trade and tort reform as key components of promoting the technology industry and growing the economy.

The platform recognizes the importance of technology in a variety of policy areas, such as energy. 

“Republicans are committed to meeting the challenge of long-term global climate change by relying on markets and new technologies to improve energy efficiency,” it states. 

The document emphasizes the role that technology plays in energy policy through innovations such as hydrogen cars (search). It also calls for utilization of the most sophisticated technologies to explore and develop new oil resources with minimal impact on the environment. 

On coal, the document says that state of the pollution control technology can “lead to significant environmental improvements while ensuring a reliable, affordable electricity supply and keeping America’s coal industry strong."

Health care is another area where the party sees an important role for technology and calls for greater use of technology for medical records. 

“Republicans support President Bush’s goal of ensuring that most Americans have electronic health records (search) within the next 10 years. He has requested funding for demonstration projects for broader adoption of health IT systems in communities and states.” 

The platform points out that the use of health IT in the Veterans Administration has brought cost savings and improvements in the quality of care. The platform also emphasizes the importance of access to the state of the art medical technology in the area of women’s health.

A read of this platform demonstrates what the members of our industry already know, which is that technology is critical to our economy and to our lives. While technology issues may not get the headlines that a number of other issues do and will not dominate the campaign by themselves, it’s evident that they are a key component of all the leading issues of the campaign. 

Our creativity and innovation have great potential for improving the lives of our citizens and for growing our economy. Clearly, the parties and the candidates understand the importance of our industry and the role we play.

Jim Prendergast is the executive director of  Americans for Technology Leadership.