Who would be better for tech, McCain or Obama?

November 3, 2008 | By | 2 Replies More

Given that technologies such as the internet, personal connectivity, and pervasive monitoring are still in a nearly malignant growth phase, it might be useful to review the positions of the presidential candidates on technology. Keep in mind that the future of America as a technological nation is also dependent on positions relating to world markets and immigration.

A good summary is found here at ZDNet. The author’s summary?

“I would give John McCain the nod for being the stronger candidate in R&D tax cuts and H1B Visas, while I think Barack Obama would be better when it comes to Net Neutrality and Green tech. That leaves Broadband development as the tie breaker.”

But it seemed to me that McCain favors giving Big Business the control, while Obama appears to prefer leveling the playing field. But whatever their stated positions, these issues will be settled by Congress and the marketplace rather than by executive fiat. A president can only get done what he is able to woo Congress to do.

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Category: Communication, Current Events, Politics, Technology

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A convoluted mind behind a curly face. A regular traveler, a science buff, and first generation American. Graying of hair, yet still verdant of mind. Lives in South St. Louis City. See his personal website for (too much) more.

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  1. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    While it is true that the president has little direct authority in the law making and policy setting processes, He does have the veto, and can suggest changes to the legislation that he would be likely to approve.

    The legislative process involves a lot of deal-making, wherein on legislator trades his vote of support on one bill in exchange for a vote on a bill he supports. By the time a bill reachs the President's desk, it will contain all sorts of unrelated concessions. The Pres can sign it into law as is of veto the bill, make suggestions on why he vetoed it and hand it bavk to the legislature, who will start over with a new bill revised according to the presidents suggestions.

    I've heard a lot about the republicans wanting to give the president line item veto power, and few constituents understand the power that line item veto would to the party of the president. With line item veto, the president would be allowed to pass only the parts of the bill he agrees with. So for example, a bill that allows search and seizure in cases of suspected terrorism might have a concession requiring prosecution of law enforcement officers who abuse the search and seizure, and with line item veto, the president could vetoe only the part pertaiing to prosecuting those that abuse the law, but let the rest of the law pass.

  2. grumpypilgrim says:

    The question really should be: who would be better for *growth* tech — the technologies that are going to create tomorrow's jobs? McCain wants to give tax breaks to big corporations, which tend to be very conservative and, by definition, heavily involved in mature technologies. Accordingly, they tend to be far less innovative than small companies and startups. Big companies usually get their breakthrough innovations by acquisition, not by internal R&D; internal R&D is typically aimed at what is often called "sustaining engineering" that is geared toward incremental improvements to existing products. For example, consider General Motors: although it has made some investment in hybrids and electric vehicles, the vast majority of its R&D budget goes toward incremental improvements — things such as side-curtain airbags, traction control, direct fuel injection, etc. Meanwhile, companies such as Telsa Motors are where the radical innovation is happening in vehicle design.

    With that framework in mind, McCain's plan to give tax breaks to big corporations is likely to be just more of the same BS that got America where it is today. Big corporations, which are basically selling commodities, tend to use tax breaks not for new innovation, but for cost reduction (because when you're selling a commodity, cost reductions are your best road to higher profits). So, big corporations will want tax breaks to do things like break unions, cut wages and benefits, ship jobs overseas, etc. By contrast, Obama appears to support greater investment in green technologies, stem cell research and other technologies that have high growth potential. If you want to revive a flagging economy in an innovation-driven country, that's almost certainly a better strategy.

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