CEOs from the largest players in the technology industry will be meeting with senior Obama administration officials this week to push for an agenda that they believe will reinvigorate US innovation and spur economic growth.
Nearly 60 executives from TechNet, a bipartisan policy and political network of CEOs, will advocate for policy changes in three key areas: improving the nation's education system and human capital support; fostering a globally competitive business climate including comprehensive tax reform; and driving investment for clean technology and 21st century energy solutions.
Here are some highlights from TechNet's agenda, taken verbatim from its press release.
To foster a globally competitive business environment, TechNet advocates:
- Tax policy. America's outdated corporate tax code has put U.S. employers at a competitive disadvantage in today's global economy. Currently, more than $1 trillion in American businesses' earnings are trapped overseas. We should move now to allow these businesses the freedom to bring this money home and invest it back into our still fragile economy. The basic operating rules of our international tax system were put in place some 50 years ago and the last significant overhaul of our tax system in 1986, 25 years ago. The world has changed dramatically since that time. In fact, many TechNet companies did not exist 25 years ago. The time has come to modernize America's corporate tax system to keep the U.S. competitive in the new global economy.
- Trade. More than 60 percent of the technology industry's sales are overseas; as the world becomes ever more connected, that number will continue to grow. TechNet supports greater market access through the adoption of foreign trade agreements still pending before Congress and working with the U.S. government to identify new market opportunities and protect companies from unfair trade practices.
- Broadband and Internet policy. TechNet supports policies that drive the growth and vitality of a safe, secure and free Internet as well as the next generation of communications. TechNet believes the FCC's national broadband plan can represent the “North Star” for future American leadership in innovation and supports the implementation of that plan.
- Basic research. TechNet supports strong national investments in research and development through increased federal funding for basic research and a permanent R&D tax credit.
To advance clean technology, TechNet recommends:
- Smart federal investments. The energy industry is capital intensive – with the most significant costs in the early stages of development. Federal support of clean energy research, development and deployment programs like ARPA-E and CEDA that help drive innovation in this capital intensive industry.
- Tax incentives. The direct costs of early adoption can initially run higher than existing energy solutions. Tax incentives and payment in lieu of tax programs have proven invaluable in helping to promote adoption. TechNet supports vital tax incentives programs such as the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit (48c) and the Section 1603 Renewable Energy Grant Program as essential for the industry to achieve scale and drive down costs.
- Smart grid. TechNet is committed to modernizing the nation's electrical infrastructure and turning this aging network into a truly integrated, smart grid equipped with the technologies, capacity and reach to meet the nation's energy demands for the next generation. TechNet supports greater empowerment of consumers to allow them more control of their individual energy consumption and federal investments and regulations to help accelerate the transition to a modern grid.
And to build the next workforce, TechNet supports:
- Education. The public and private sectors must work together to develop initiatives to improve science and math education; increase the number of Americans attaining degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics; and increase the opportunities to bring new, relevant technologies into the classroom.
- High-skilled immigration. TechNet supports a complete overhaul of the nation's highly skilled immigration system to better reflect the realities of today's global economy. By increasing the number of H-1B visas available to foreign-born workers, speeding up the employment-based green card application process and ensuring that foreign-born students who graduate with advanced degrees from U.S. colleges and universities are able to stay in the country instead of sending home to U.S. competitors.
It's interesting to note that many of these companies benefit directly from policies that are currently in place (earnings are hardly “trapped” overseas — a lot of that is there intentionally) and that some of these recommendations won't be popular with rank-and-file workers in the US (H-1B visas). But advocating for the industry is one of the reasons organizations like TechNet exist. The question is how far are companies — and the government — willing to go to achieve some of these goals?
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