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TechNet’s Agenda for the Obama Administration

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 America's outdated corporate tax code has put U.S. employers at a competitive disadvantage in today's global economy.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?

What do you think? Have your say on the message board below.

8 comments on “TechNet’s Agenda for the Obama Administration

  1. SP
    March 10, 2011

    I am sure h1-b point will draw lots of attention. But this is something that government cannot deny that getting high skilled workers from outside is very essential to fulfill necessities of Information technology of US.

  2. Ariella
    March 10, 2011

     I'm wondering about this part:

    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.                                                                            

    Seriously, without a smart grid, what prevents an individual from buying energy efficient appliances and lightbulbs and from not cranking the air conditioner up as soon as the temperture hits 78 degrees?  

  3. tioluwa
    March 10, 2011

    As you have said Barbarah

    advocating is one of the things TechNiet was setup for, and i think this is a well though out plan.

    I think the measures are very important is the US is to stay a leader in the Tech field. so many countries are working hard to deevelop their own technology, a resent blog post showed what Russia is doing, and how Tech giants are seizing the opportunity.

    I don't know how it  will turn up with government officials, but they don't seam to have shown a good record for forsight when it comes to Tech matters, i only hope they do it right now.

  4. elctrnx_lyf
    March 10, 2011

    This meeting will certainly show some direction to the American government. If the reform is suggested by industries it definitely makes sense. The smartgrid, broadband and H1B ar e very interesting subjects and will draw attention of all the people across US. I think it is crucial time for obama govt to take important decisions for the future of america and its people.

  5. mfbertozzi
    March 14, 2011

    I believe high-level meeting like that could help a lot US and worldwide economy to outline possible strategy on recovery current financial and political events; anyway a few weeks are gone and pragmatically speaking, what is the follow-up?

  6. stochastic excursion
    March 14, 2011

    TechNet's strategy follows the familiar pattern of any industrial lobbying organization; push for tax breaks and hand-outs in the name of stimulating the economy.  Curiously, as more and more of the actual business activity goes overseas, the lobbyist's promises of prosperity at home hold less and less water.  How far government is willing to go to meet the needs of industry is a good question–it continues to go further and further.  With sales tax now very nearly 10% in big cities, and classroom size in Detroit to hit 60 students next year, it was reported today, government seems resigned to create conditions for its citizens that surely Asian populations would find repugnant.

  7. test10022
    March 22, 2011

    There are 7 million college graduates in the United States.  Less than 5% of them are foreign.  That's less than 350,000.

    If we take the upper ten percentile of these foreign students, that's 35,000.

    We have 85,000 available H-1B visas (65,000 undergrad, 20,000 grad.) 

    No foriegn student in the upper 10th percentile is going to go home if we correctly use the visa slots we already have.  If we don't and, instead, waste the visas on ordinary foreigners that are simply cheap rather sponsoring the best and brightest, then we shouldn't blame, nor punish, the American worker with even lower wages.

    Don't raise the cap.  Force administrators to correctly use the visa slots we already have.

  8. Jennifer Dorning
    March 22, 2011

    The U.S. does not need more H-1B visas; it needs a better H-1B system. While foreign workers with advanced degrees may be important to our future, simply increasing the number of available H-1Bs will not ensure that we are recruiting and retaining the workers that will grow our economy.

     

    Over 200,000 H-1B visas are issued every year (new applications and renewals). Over 100,000 of those H-1B visas go to fill entry level positions. There is no evidence that there are an insufficient number of U.S. workers to fill these positions.

     

    There are numerous ways to improve the H-1B system, including the establishment of a labor market test. The H-1B visa was intended to bring highly skilled foreign workers to the United States to fill positions that could not be filled by the domestic workforce. Yet H-1B visas are issued regardless of worker shortages. In the second quarter of 2010, computer scientists, systems analysts, and computer programmers all had unemployment rates of around 6 percent, which is high for this occupation field, yet nearly 90,000 H-1B visas were issued to hire foreign workers in computer-related occupations.

     

    Any changes to the H-1B program will have significant consequences for our future. Access to even more foreign workers creates a disincentive to invest in our domestic education programs and leads to fewer U.S. students pursuing math, science, and engineering degrees. We should be supporting programs that have the opposite effect.

     

    For more information about these issues, see the Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO website, http://www.dpeaflcio.org and two of its reports on the H-1B visa system: Guest Worker Visas: The H-1B and L-1 and Gaming the System: Guest Worker Visa Programs and Professional and Technical Workers in the U.S. (www.dpeaflcio.org/programs-publications/issue-fact-sheets/).

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