Bush, Kerry Lay Out Tech Initiatives

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

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

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.”

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