Bush, Kerry Lay Out Tech Initiatives
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UPDATED: President Bush and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry may have sharp differences in their views on foreign policy and the economy, but when it comes to technology issues, the two hold remarkably similar views.
On Thursday, Kerry unveiled a technology plan designed to promote universal and affordable broadband access. While Kerry was campaigning in the Silicon Valley, Bush was speaking at a Department of Commerce event in support of his own initiative, originally announced in March, for universal broadband access by 2007.
Kerry: "We need to seize the possibilities of the broadband revolution and make Internet access available to all of America's families. We need to make sure we don't settle for slipping to 10th place in the world when it comes to adopting broadband. This means connecting every corner of our country to a network that's up to 100 times faster than today's."
Bush: "Access has gone from 7 million subscriber lines in 2000, to 28 million last year. That's rapid growth. Yet, on a per capita basis, America ranks 10th amongst the industrialized world. That's not good enough. We don't like to be ranked 10th in anything. The goal is to be ranked first when it comes to per capita use of broadband technology. It's in our nation's interest. It's good for our economy."
Both Bush and Kerry think the answer is wireless broadband. Both men support transferring and selling federally-controlled spectrum to the private sector. Both say they want to reduce the tax burdens and regulations on technology.
Speaking at San Jose State University, Kerry said he would pay for his plan for universal broadband access by accelerating the transition to digital television. Kerry said one-third of the vacated spectrum would be given to first responders, one-third to unlicensed wireless broadband and the remaining airwaves would be auctioned off for up to $30 billion.
Kerry also called for eliminating capital gains taxes for long-term investments in small businesses, funding for "broad-based increases" in research and increased spending on education to promote science and engineering degrees.
"It is an optimistic agenda for prosperity. It recognizes that the promise of the Information Age was not a bubble; it is a breakthrough that will continue to lift our economy and our lives," Kerry said.
Bush said he supported a bill in Congress known as the Commercial Spectrum Enhancement Act, which would allow the government to sell federally-controlled spectrum to the private sector.
"It is a bill where we can take spectrum that is currently allocated to the government and auction it off to the private sector without diminishing our responsibilities in government. In other words, it will be an auction process," he said. "Taxpayers will not only benefit because broadband has been expanded, the taxpayers will benefit because we're not going to give the spectrum away. We'll let [providers] pay."
On technology taxes, Kerry said he supports the Senate bill that would extent the tax moratorium on Internet connections that expired last November, a position supported by the president.
"If the goal is to spread broadband, it doesn't make any sense to tax it as we're spreading it," Bush said. "Congress needs to act on this so an Internet access ban can be signed into law soon."
Kerry also said his plan would provide a 10 percent tax credit for investments in rural and inner city areas. According to Kerry's position paper, "Investments in the next-generation of high-speed broadband anywhere in the country would be eligible for a 20 percent tax credit -- this would be available for speeds more than 20 times the current generation of broadband. These tax credits would be in effect for five years and the proposal would cost $2 billion over that period."