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Romney, Obama Release Statements On How To Grow Tech Startups


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Both presidential campaigns released statements on how they would grow the technology startup industry. In letters addressed to the regional trade organization, NYTechMeeetup, both candidates gave moderately specific answers. Obama focused on his track-record of technology policy, including the release of government data through the newly created Chief Technology Officer, the overhaul of patent reform, and the legalization of “crowdfunding.” Romney promised more high-skilled immigrants, the creation of a new free trade zone, and to fund research. We’ve included the full statements below and some bulleted point explanations on the specifics.

Obama

  • The Chief Technology is a new senior advisor position dedicated to creatively applying technology to government solutions. The current CTO, Todd Park, unveiled his plan at TechCrunch Disrupt New York, and details can be read here)
  • Crowdfunding expands the number and types of investors legally allowed to fund a startup, which was ratified last April with Jumpstart Our Business Startups ACt
  • The America Invents Act was the first major overhaul of the patent system since 1952 and attempted to solve ongoing problems with intellectual property in the 21st century.
  • As an editorial side note, Obama takes the cake on eloquence (or maybe “pandering,” depending on your political persuasion). In his conclusion, he writes, “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.”

Romney

  • High-skilled immigration is seen as a major need for the tech industries dearth of engineers, but Congress has so far failed to enact meaningful reform.
  • Romney’s so-called “Reagan Economic Zone” is a plan to create something like the World Trade Organization for countries who “embrace free enterprise,” which Romney later clarified as an explicit jab at China in a USA Today op-ed.
  • Many influential technologists credit government funding with the creation of the Internet. However, Romney says that we should not “pick winners and losers,” which is perhaps a nod at new programs like those of the Small Business Association, which funds technology startups outside of the typical regions (i.e. California, New York).

Both letters are pasted below from the NYTechMeetup website:

ROMNEY ========================================
Dear Andrew,
Thank you to you and your members for your interest in my policies for
promoting technological innovation and business start-ups. While the
private sector is far more effective at pursuing and applying
innovation than government could ever be, I do believe that there are
key areas in which government policy must strengthen the ability of
the private sector to innovate effectively.

Over the course of my campaign, I have laid out a detailed economic
plan that seeks to strengthen the American economy by empowering
entrepreneurs and workers and rewarding innovation. This plan
emphasizes critical structural adjustments to promote growth rather
than short-term fixes.

Human Capital. We must reform America’s legal immigration system to
attract and retain the best and the brightest, and equip more
Americans with the skills to succeed. I will raise visa caps for
highly skilled foreign workers, offer permanent residence to foreign
students graduating with advanced degrees in relevant fields, and
restructure government retraining programs to empower individual
workers and welcome private sector participation.

Taxes. We must pursue fundamental tax reform that simplifies the tax
code, broadens the tax base, and lowers tax rates. I will lower the
corporate tax rate to 25 percent, strengthen and make permanent the
R&D tax credit, and transition to a territorial tax system. I will cut
individual income tax rates across the board, and maintain today’s low
tax rates on investment. And I will ensure that these changes are made
permanent so that investors and entrepreneurs are not confronted with
a constantly shifting set of rules.

Regulation. We must reduce the power of unaccountable regulators by
requiring that all major regulations receive congressional approval
and by imposing a regulatory cap that prevents the addition of new
regulatory costs. In a Romney Administration. agencies will have to
limit the costs they are imposing on society and recognize that their
job is to streamline and reduce burdens, not to add new ones.

Trade. We must open new markets for American businesses and workers. I
will create a Reagan Economic Zone encompassing nations committed to
the principles of free enterprise. At the same time I will confront
nations like China that steal intellectual property from American
innovators while closing American access to their markets.

Education. America‘s K-12 education system lags behind other developed
nations, and while our higher education system remains the envy of the
world its costs are spiraling out ofcontrol. We must pursue genuine
education reform that puts the interests of parents and students ahead
of special interests and provides a chance for every child. I will
take the unprecedented step of tying federal funds directly to
dramatic reforms that expand parental choice, invest in innovation,
and reward teachers for their results instead of their tenure. I will
also ensure that students have diverse and affordable options for
higher education to give them the skills they need to succeed after
graduation.

Basic Research. President Obama‘s misguided attempts to play the role
of venture capitalist, pick winners and losers, and spend tens
ofbillions 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
technology. 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.
Many of these policies may seem like common sense, yet they are ones
that our nation is failing to pursue today and ones that our President
has put on the back burner while trying his own hand at playing
venture capitalist and focusing on government-led growth. The results
are plain to see in a failed economic recovery that continues to
produce extraordinarily disappointing growth and job creation As
president, I will emphasize policies that once again make America the
best place in the world to make a discovery, start a business, hire a
worker, or find a job.
Sincerely,
Mitt Romney

OBAMA ========================================
Dear Members of NY Tech Meetup:
Thank you for carrying forward the entrepreneurial spirit that makes
us a nation of doers, dreamers and risk takers. You understand that
innovation and job creation occur when we make smart investments in
infrastructure and technology and build an environment that encourages
entrepreneurs to change the way we live and work.

Together we’ve used that bedrock American belief to recover and
rebuild from the worst economic crisis in a generation. Today,
entrepreneurship is at record levels and the number of business
startups is up almost 10 percent since my first year in office. And
this past Friday, we learned the unemployment rate has fallen to its
lowest level since I took office. As inventors, makers and thinkers
you’ve helped get us here, believing that if anyone has a solid plan
and is willing to work hard and play by the rules, we can turn any
idea into something.

I believe it, too. That’s why I’ve been laying the foundation for an
economy built to last through investments in infrastructure and
technology. We’re expanding broadband networks to connect businesses
large and small with markets around the World. The health care law
invests in our health IT infrastructure, improving the delivery and
management of care. Wall Street reform put a consumer protection cop
on the beat, using technology to help consumers understand their
rights when buying a home or using a credit card.

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.

This past April, I also signed a law to help high-growth entrepreneurs
and small businesses harness “crowdfunding” to raise capital
consistent with investor protections and make it easier for young,
high- growth firms to go public. I also launched the Startup America
Partnership to improve the environment for high-growth
entrepreneurship across the country. I encourage you to join, as we’re
focusing on unlocking access to capital to fuel startup growth,
connecting mentors and education to entrepreneurs, accelerating
innovation from “lab to market” for breakthrough technologies and
unleashing market opportunities in industries like health care, clean
energy and education.

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.

But investments in human capital remain our strongest economic asset.
We have a start-up visa program that’s allowing foreign entrepreneurs
to establish businesses in America and create American jobs. And I
have set concrete goals to create an economy built to last, including
recruiting 100,000 math and science teachers over the next 10 years
and training 2 million workers at connnunity colleges for jobs in
fields like health care, advanced manufacturing clean energy and
information technology.

As a nation. we can’t simply cut our way to prosperity or fall back to
the top-down, trickle-down economics that benefits the few, but guts
investments in our country’s future that grow our economy — and your
startups. But that’s the choice in this election between two
fundamentally different paths for our country, between moving forward
and falling back.

As your president, I will continue to stand by you because if we
combine our creativity. our innovation and our optimism, we can
achieve anything. And the reason I’ve never been more optimistic about
the future is because of all of you. You’ll be the next entrepreneur
to turn a big idea into something — a new invention or an entire new
industry. That’s the promise of America; that’s what this country is
all about.

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 keep doing and dreaming and moving our country forward.
Sincerely,
Barack Obama

Image Credit: Matt H. Wade/Wikimedia