The Candidates' Plans for Information Technology: Page 3

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(Obama, continued)

• Deploy a Modern Communications Infrastructure: To realize Barack Obama’s vision of an interconnected democracy, the nation deserves the finest and most modern communications infrastructure in the world. The technology sector has helped keep the United States at the center of innovation and the job growth and wealth creation that has accompanied it.

However, while the United States once led the world in Internet deployment, the Bush administration has surrendered that leadership through its indifference to technology and its lack of understanding of the 21st century economy. By rededicating our nation to ensuring that all Americans have access to broadband and the skills to use it effectively, Barack Obama will position our citizens, particularly our young people, to compete and succeed in an increasingly technology-rich, knowledge-based economy.

• Deploy Next-Generation Broadband: Barack Obama believes that America should lead the world in broadband penetration and Internet access. As a country, we have ensured that every American has access to telephone service and electricity, regardless of economic status, and Obama will do likewise for broadband Internet access.

Full broadband penetration can enrich democratic discourse, enhance competition, provide economic growth, and bring significant consumer benefits. Moreover, improving our infrastructure will foster competitive markets for Internet access and services that ride on that infrastructure. Obama believes we can get true broadband to every community in America through a combination of reform of the Universal Service Fund, better use of the nation’s wireless spectrum, promotion of next-generation facilities, technologies and applications, and new tax and loan incentives.

• Employ Technology and Innovation to Solve Our Nation’s Most Pressing Problems: The 21st century tools of technology and telecommunications have unleashed the forces of globalization on a previously unimagined scale. They have “flattened” communications and labor markets and have contributed to a period of unprecedented innovation, making us more productive, connected global citizens. By maximizing the power of technology, we can strengthen the quality and affordability of our health care, advance climate-friendly energy development and deployment, improve education throughout the country, and ensure that America remains the world’s leader in technology.

• Lower Health Care Costs by Investing in Electronic Information Technology Systems: A key feature of Barack Obama’s health care plan is the use of technology to lower the cost of health care. Most medical records are still stored on paper, which makes them difficult to use to coordinate care, measure quality, or reduce medical errors. Processing paper claims also costs twice as much as processing electronic claims. Obama will invest $10 billion a year over the next five years to move the U.S. health care system to broad adoption of standards-based electronic health information systems, including electronic health records.

• Invest in the Sciences: Barack Obama supports doubling federal funding for basic research, changing the posture of our federal government from being one of the most anti-science administrations in American history to one that embraces science and technology. This will foster home-grown innovation, help ensure the competitiveness of US technology-based businesses, and ensure that 21st century jobs can and will grow in America.

As a share of the Gross Domestic Product, American federal investment in the physical sciences and engineering research has dropped by half since 1970. Yet, it often has been federally-supported basic research that has generated the innovation to create markets and drive economic growth. For example, one recent report demonstrated how federally supported research in fiber optics and lasers helped spur the telecommunications revolution.

• Make the R&D Tax Credit Permanent: Barack Obama wants investments in a skilled research and development workforce and technology infrastructure to be supported here in America so that American workers and communities will benefit. Obama wants to make the Research and Development tax credit permanent so that firms can rely on it when making decisions to invest in domestic R&D over multi-year timeframes.

Some Pay More Attention than Others

I know what you’re thinking. You think that I deliberately included tons of material from Clinton and Obama at the expense of material from McCain and Romney. It’s just not true. It turns out that some candidates have IT and CS on their agendas and some do not. I would have been much happier if all the candidates had specific plans to re-start our formidable research and developent engine, an engine that has sat idling since 2001.

Again, I realize that technology is but one of issues facing our country. But it’s a real issue and the four candidates have something – or very little – to say about an issue that affects our professional lives and the ability of our nation to globally compete.

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