Bush and Kerry Debate Technology

With days to go before the presidential election, both President Bush and Sen. Kerry square off over the tech industry. Which candidate would best bolster the struggling tech sector? Candidates on Jobs, Spam, Security Questions
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The IT industry is a vital driver in the U.S. economy, according to presidential candidates Sen. John Kerry (D.-Mass) and President George W. Bush. Both claim to focus on the importance of the high-tech world, but some industry analysts wonder how much impact either will have on the tech sector.

With the Nov. 2 election about a week away, the presidential hopefuls remain neck-and-neck in the polls. Technology workers across the country watch the candidates for an indication of which one will place more value on the IT industry, which has been struggling to regain its footing the past several years.

A recent survey, designed by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), asked the candidates camps a variety of questions regarding the role of technology in the U.S. economy. The 12 questions range from their plans for keeping American high-tech workers competitive in the global marketplace to spam and cyber security.

Candidates on Jobs, Spam, Security Questions

Mike Wendy, manager of media relations at CompTIA, says he hopes the survey will act as a voting aid for the information technology sector. He and his team want to provide the candidates a forum to speak to technology workers about some of the issues they're dealing with.

''These issues haven't really been debated in the [presidential] debates,'' Wendy says.

He adds that CompTIA does not side with either camp but he rather hopes readers will utilize the survey's results and form their own opinions.

When responding to the survey question about the importance of the IT industry to the growth and development of the U.S., Bush says he sees the sector as a driving force behind the economy.

''In a rapidly changing global economy, one thing is for certain: innovation will drive America's economic success and prosperity,'' Bush writes in his response. ''We must adapt to the reality that the same telecommunication networks that integrate nations into the global economy also bring new competitors to our doorstep.''

John Bailey, deputy policy director of technology issues for the Bush campaign, says the president plans to invest in the tech sector to ensure its stability and competitiveness. He says the Bush administration plans to increase funding for the Federal Research and Development Tax Credit. He also says Bush will try to make the tax credit affordable for the private sector.

Bailey also says Bush plans to continue to pursue free trade agreements that open up tech markets in other nations.

''This will help tech companies expand and tap into markets overseas, while insuring that they have the proper protections,'' Bailey says.

However, Kerry's Technology Advisor, Tom Kalil says it is clear the Bush administration does not consider the tech industry a high priority.

''They are not focused on these issues at all,'' he says. ''Only during the heat of the campaign did they talk about it. Where were they in the last three and a half years?''

Kalil says Kerry plans to focus heavily on the IT industry. Sen. Kerry has said he will implement a number of plans to help the tech sector, such as diminishing the tax credit given to IT companies for shipping jobs overseas, and instead creating a tax credit for companies creating new jobs here in the U.S.

Kalil also says Kerry supports the Research and Development Tax Credit and will work with Congress to make it a permanent fixture.

Robert Atkinson, vice president of the Progressive Policy Institute, a Washington D.C.-based research and education institute and liberal think-tank, says the Kerry camp values the IT industry more than Bush does.

''The president talks a good game, is long on rhetoric, but he is short on follow-through,'' Atkinson says.

Kerry surrounds himself with a lot of people focused on and knowledgeable about information technology, Atkinson maintains. He says it is hard to find similar people in the Bush administration.

''They are just not there,'' Atkinson says. ''He [Bush] just did not place IT at a high level.''

''I have had many personal conversations on IT with Kerry, and I get a sense that he's pretty interested and knowledgeable about IT,'' Atkinson adds.

Bailey disagrees. He says the Bush administration will continue to consider the IT industry a top concern and will listen to and act on things that people in the IT sector request.

Continue on to see how each candidate responds to issues, like cyber security, spam, and job losses.

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