Sunday, October 14, 2012

How do the candidates compare on Technical issues? Their own words

The New York Technology Meetup sent a request to both campaigns asking:

We are writing on behalf of our over 27,000 members and the rapidly growing New York technology community to ask for you to explain to our members how your policies as President would benefit the growth of New York start-up community and other start up entrepreneurs who are using 21st century tools to build 21st century businesses.

The Internet and information technologies have created a renaissance in startup innovation in New York City that now rivals Silicon Valley as a hub for economic growth. Tens of thousands of New Yorkers have been inspired to become entrepreneurs, starting new companies and creating thousands of new jobs. Opportunities in the use of technology are also providing professionals in many of New York City’s traditional industries like publishing, media, advertising, and financial services the opportunity to enhance their skills and sometimes start new careers all while participating in the 21st century global economy.

The complete letters from both campaigns can be read at

The Romney letter reads close to his Web site's primary campaign points.  He says we must control illegal immigration, lower taxes, reduce regulation, confront China on trade, and expand parental choice for education (which I assume means vouchers to private schools).  He also argues that we should be giving teachers results-based rewards instead of tenure - which I don't agree with but admit there is some support for among the tech community.

He does say, with respect to basic research:

 President Obama‘s misguided attempts to play the role
of venture capitalist, pick winners and losers, and spend tens
of billions of dollars on politically-prioritized investments have been
a disaster for the American taxpayer. Yet at the same time, we must
never forget that the United States has moved forward in astonishing
ways thanks to national investment in basic research and advanced

which sounds reasonable, although he then follows it up with

As president. I will focus government resources on
research programs that advance the development of knowledge, and on
technologies with widespread application and potential to serve as the
foundation for private sector innovation and commercialization.

where that latter part sure seems to me to be the same as what he criticizes the President for -- he says we should have technologies that create private sector innovation and commercialization -- isn't that the "play the role of venture capitalist" that he is against in the previous paragraph??

Governor Romney doesn't mention the Internet or information technologies at all.

President Obama, on the other hand, sends a letter that more clearly answers the actual question -- what are the keys to the innovation economy. 

Specifically adressing the issue of Internet policy he reiterates the point made in the Democratic platform that the Internet must be kept open -- he says:

I signed patent reform into law to help American entrepreneurs bring
inventions to market sooner, leading to new businesses, jobs and
industries. But that also depends on a regulatory system that supports
our homegrown innovations. That’s why I’ll continue to stand by you to
protect the openness of the Intemet while still enforcing intellectual
property rights.

He also talks about government support for open government data (my key issue and I think a home-run answer)

Across your government, we’ve used technology to bridge the offline
and online divide to empower citizens and build a more participatory
democracy. On my first day in office I created the position of U.S.
Chief Technology Officer so we can pursue new open data initiatives to
unleash unprecedented volumes of government data related to energy,
education, international development, public safety and other areas.
We’re unlocking our resources to fuel new products, companies and
industries and connect the next generation of entrepreneurs to freely
available government data, while rigorously protecting and respecting
privacy rights. And we recently announced the first class of
“Presidential Innovation Fellows,” talented private sector innovators
who will spend six months in Washington partnering up with the
govemment’s top innovators to meet straightforward goals: improve the
lives of the American people, save taxpayer dollars and fuel job
creation across the country.

He concludes his letter

That is the legacy of Edison and Bell. That is the story of Google and
Twitter. That is what landed NASA’s Curiosity on Mars, reminding us
that our preeminence — not just in space. but here on Earth — depends
on investing wisely in the innovation, technology, and basic research
that has always made the United States the envy of the world.

So for those of you still not sure whether you are going to go out and vote -- read these and think about who you want to be in the White House, and appointing Supreme Court Justices, when the issues of new neutrality, so-called online piracy (the rebirth of SOPA is already underway), and decisions about budget-cutting in government research funding. 

I think the differences between the two candidates on issues of interest to the computing and information innovation communities is clear.

Remember the important thing is to vote!!

 -Jim Hendler
Computer Scientists for Obama
visit us on Facebook at
and follow @tech4obama for continuing news on the Obama campaign and technology issues.

No comments:

Post a Comment