Barack Obama on Technology

Democratic nomine for President; Junior Senator (IL)

Google for Government was a bipartisan initiative

McCAIN: Obama has the most liberal voting record in the US Senate. Itís hard to reach across the aisle from that far to the left.

OBAMA: I worked with Tom Coburn, one of the most conservative Republicans, who John already mentioned, to set up what we call Google for Government, which says that we are going to list every dollar of federal spending to make sure that the taxpayer can take a look and see who, in fact, is promoting some of these spending projects that Johnís been railing about.

Source: 2008 first presidential debate, Obama vs. McCain Sep 26, 2008

Double basic research funding; make the R&D tax permanent

We canít just focus on preserving existing industries. We have to be in the business of encouraging new ones--and that means science, research and technology. For two centuries, America led the world in innovation. But this Administrationís hostility to science has taken a toll. At a time when technology is shaping our future, we devote a smaller and smaller share of our national resources to Research and Development. Iíll double federal funding for basic research, and make the R&D tax credit permanent.
Source: Speech in Flint, MI, in Change We Can Believe In, p.253-4 Jun 15, 2008

National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank: $60B in 10 years

If we want to keep up with China or Europe, we canít settle for crumbling roads and bridges, aging water and sewer pipes, and faltering electrical grids that cost us billions to blackouts, repairs and travel delays. Itís gotten so bad that the American Society of Civil Engineers gave our national infrastructure a ďD.Ē A century ago, Teddy Roosevelt called together leaders from business and government to develop a plan for 20th century infrastructure. It falls to us to do the same.

As President, I wil launch a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank that will invest $60 billion over ten years--a bank that can leverage private investment in infrastructure improvements, and create nearly two million new jobs. The work will be determined by what will maximize our safety and security and ability to compete. We will fund this bank as we bring the war in Iraq to a responsible close. We can modernize our power grid, which will help conservation and spur on the development and distribution of clean energy

Source: Speech in Flint, MI, in Change We Can Believe In, p.255 Jun 15, 2008

Incentives for next-generation broadband in every community

Source: Campaign booklet, ďBlueprint for ChangeĒ, p. 10-15 Feb 2, 2008

Increase funding for math and science research & education

If we want to development math and science curriculums, weíve got to make math and science jobs attractive, which means increasing research grants. This is something that is important not just for our competitiveness, but also for our long-term national security. And when Bush requests $196 billion for next yearís wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and is seeing a flatlining of investment in science research, that makes it more difficult for us to encourage our children to go into sciences.
Source: 2007 Democratic debate at Drexel University Oct 30, 2007

Airlines got into trouble after deregulation

The airlines got into trouble after deregulation, and it has continued and compounded. They have tried to make more money. Theyíre seeing better solvency, but theyíve done it on the backs of consumers. Anybody flying commercial knows that service has gone down & deteriorated. We have to make sure thereís enough airport capacity. Weíve got to place, potentially, restrictions on some flights & encourage airlines to deal with the problems of remote areas having difficulty in terms of making connections.
Source: 2007 Democratic debate at Drexel University Oct 30, 2007

Organizes campaign events via MySpace.com and FaceBook.com

Obamaís campaign has generated far more interest on social networking sites than any other politician. Obamaís MySpace page reached 160,000 friends. An Obama Facebook page had over 200,000 supporters in 2 weeks. Joe Trippi, Howard Deanís Internet campaig manager, observed, ďIt took our campaign 6 months to get 139,000 people on an email list. It took one Facebook group barely a month to get to 200,000. Thatís astronomical.Ē

Obama drew thousands to a university rally organized online by students using Facebook. Obama hadnít even met the student organizers until he arrived at the event. By March 1, 2007, just a few weeks after Obama began his campaign, his website My.BarackObama.com attracted 3,306 grassroots volunteer groups, 4,416 personal fundraisin pages, 6,706 blogs, and 38,799 people with individual profiles building networks to support Obama.

This new age of decentralized politics takes much of the power out of the hands of political consultants and into the grasp of individuals.

Source: The Improbable Quest, by John K. Wilson, p. 14-15 Oct 30, 2007

JFK inspired with space program; now same with energy R&D

Q: How would you change the system to make American students competitive on the world scene?

A: [One thing is] emphasizing math and science instruction, finding innovative ways to make it interesting for students. This is an area where the president has the power to use the bully pulpit and to make math and science interesting and vibrant again. One of the things that Iím always struck by when I talk to engineers and scientists who are in their 50s and 60s is how many say they were inspired by JFK and the space program for going into science and math. And one area where I think we could actually do that is to really make a huge effort around energy independence. And if a president is talking about the importance of us engaging in research and development, doubling the amount of research dollars that are being put into basic science and basic research, all that can help lift up the importance of these areas of study for young people who basically take their cues from the larger culture.

Source: Huffington Post Mash-Up: 2007 Democratic on-line debate Sep 13, 2007

Increase funding for basic research; expand broadband access

Some 7% of college graduates are unemployed or underemployed. Obama supports increasing federal funding for basic research, expanding broadband access, and making the research and development tax credit permanent so that young people with and without college degrees can thrive in the job market.
Source: Campaign website, BarackObama.com, ďResource FlyersĒ Aug 26, 2007

As Senate freshman spoke out on Katrina ramifications

Obama was, in his own words, ďa blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views,Ē or that the higher he soared, the more this politician spoke in well-worn platitudes and the more he offered warm, feel-good sentiments lacking a precise framework.

In his two years in the minority party in the US Senate, he had the clout to pass only one substantial piece of legislation or that he avoided conflict at all costs, spending none of his heavily amassed political capital on even a single controversial issue he believed in. Indeed, through his first year in the Senate, he had to argue with his cautious political advisors to speak out, however carefully, on a topic dear to him--the impact of Hurricane Katrina and its racial and economic ramifications.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p. 12 Aug 14, 2007

Broadband in heart of inner cities and rural towns

Let us be the generation that reshapes our economy to compete in the digital age. Letís set high standards for our schools and give them the resources they need to succeed. Letís recruit a new army of teachers, and give them better pay and more support in exchange for more accountability. Letís make college more affordable, and letís invest in scientific research, and letís lay down broadband lines through the heart of inner cities and rural towns all across America.
Source: Speech in Springfield, in Change We Can Believe In, p.198 Feb 10, 2007

$42B more in university-based R&D

There is another aspect of our educational system that merits attention. Institutions of higher learning have served as the nationís research and development labs. These institutions train the innovators of the future. Here too, our policies have been moving in the wrong direction. Each month, scientists and engineers visit to discuss the federal governmentís diminished commitment to funding basic research. Over the last 30 years, funding for the sciences has declined as a percentage of GDP. If we want an innovation economy, then we have to invest in our future innovators--by doubling federal funding of basic research over the next five years, training 100,000 more engineers and scientists over the next four years, or providing new research grants to the most outstanding early career researchers in the country. The price tag is $42 billion over five years. We can afford to do what needs to be done. What is missing is national urgency.
Source: The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama, p.165-167 Oct 1, 2006

Invest on transportation and clean coal technology projects

Freight rail is important, and thatís part of what makes us the transportation hub of the nation. We need to significantly improve on it. Thereís already a program in place called CREATE that would create a public/private partnership in order to improve our rail line capacity. The south suburban airport is a good idea-although we may depart on how to build it. Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., has come up with a plan that involves private investors willing to lay out the risk for this project, and we should get moving on it quickly. I do believe in OíHare expansion. Thatís the crown jewel of our transportation system. Locks and dams has already been mentioned. The FutureGen Project down in southern Illinois, that could do something about revitalizing the coal industry in southern Illinois by funding a billion-dollar project to develop clean coal technology, so Illinois coal can be utilized in a way thatís environmentally sound. One of our highest priorities has to be energy independent in the future.
Source: IL Senate Debate, Illinois Radio Network Oct 12, 2004

Voted NO on restoring $550M in funding for Amtrak for 2007.

An amendment to provide an additional $550,000,000 for Amtrak for fiscal year 2007. Voting YEA would increase Amtrak funding from $900 million to $1.45 billion. Voting NAY would keep Amtrak funding at $900 million.
Reference: Santorum amendment to Transportation funding bill; Bill S.Amdt.3015 to S.Con.Res.83 ; vote number 2006-052 on Mar 15, 2006

Close digital divide with high-tech training.

Obama adopted the CBC principles:

Source: Congressional Black Caucus press release 01-CBC9 on Jan 6, 2001

Ensure net neutrality: no corporate-tiered Internet.

Obama co-sponsored ensuring net neutrality: no corporate-tiered Internet

Sen. DORGAN. "The issue of Internet freedom is also known as net neutrality. I have long fought in Congress against media concentration, to prevent the consolidation of control over what Americans see in the media. Now, Americans face an equally great threat to the democratic vehicle of the Internet, which we have always taken for granted as an open and free engine for creative growth.

"The Internet became a robust engine of economic development by enabling anyone with a good idea to connect to consumers and compete on a level playing field for consumers' business. The marketplace picked winners and losers, and not some central gatekeeper.

"But now we face a situation where the FCC has removed nondiscrimination rules that applied to Internet providers for years. Broadband operators soon thereafter announced their interest in acting in discriminatory ways, planning to create tiers on the Internet that could restrict content providers' access to the Internet unless they pay extra for faster speeds or better service. Under their plan, the Internet would become a new world where those content providers who can afford to pay special fees would have better access to consumers.

"This fundamentally changes the way the Internet has operated and threaten to derail the democratic nature of the Internet. American consumers and businesses will be worse off for it. Today we introduce the Internet Freedom Preservation Act to ensure that the Internet remains a platform that spawns innovation and economic development for generations to come.

Source: Internet Freedom Preservation Act (S.215) 2007-S215 on Jan 9, 2007

Create online database of science & math scholarships.

Obama sponsored creating online database of science & math scholarships

Directs the Secretary of Education to establish and maintain, on the public website of the Department of Education, a database of information on public and private programs of financial assistance for the study of postsecondary and graduate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

    Requires that such database:
  1. provide separate information for each field of study;
  2. be searchable by category and combinations of categories;
  3. indicate programs targeted toward specific demographic groups;
  4. provide searchers with program sponsor contact information and hyperlinks; and
  5. include a recommendation that students and families carefully review application requirements and a disclaimer that scholarships presented in the database are not provided or endorsed by the Department or the federal government.
Requires the Secretary and the entity contracted to furnish and regularly update information to consult with public and private sources of scholarships and make easily available a process for the sources to provide regular and updated information.
Source: National STEM Scholarship Database Act (S.2428/H.R.1051) 2007-S2428 on Dec 6, 2007

Website for competitive federal awards.

Obama sponsored website for competitive federal awards

A bill to strengthen transparency and accountability in Federal spending.

Source: Strengthening Transparency and Accountability Act (S.3077) 2008-S3077 on Jun 3, 2008

Overturn FCC approval of media consolidation.

Obama co-sponsored overturning FCC approval of media consolidation

Congressional Summary:Disapproves the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on February 22, 2008, relating to broadcast media ownership. Declares that the rule shall have no force or effect.

Proponents' Argument in Favor:Sen. DORGAN: The FCC loosened the ban on cross-ownership of newspapers and broadcast stations. We seek with this resolution of disapproval to reverse the FCC's fast march to ease media ownership rules. The FCC has taken a series of destructive actions in the past two decades that I believe have undermined the public interest. [Now they have given] a further green light to media concentration.

The FCC voted to allow cross-ownership of newspapers and broadcast stations in the top 20 markets, with loopholes for mergers outside of the top 20 markets. The newspapers would be allowed to buy stations ranked above fifth and above.

The rule change was framed as a modest compromise. But make no mistake, this is a big deal. As much as 44% of the population lives in the top 20 markets. The last time the FCC tried to do this, in 2003, the Senate voted to block it.

This rule will undercut localism and diversity of ownership around the country. Studies show that removing the ban on newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership results in a net loss in the amount of local news produced in the market as a whole. In addition, while the FCC suggests that cross-ownership is necessary to save failing newspapers, the publicly traded newspapers earn annual rates of return between 16% and 18%.

This Resolution of Disapproval will ensure this rule change has no effect. This is again a bipartisan effort to stop the FCC from destroying the local interests that we have always felt must be a part of broadcasting.

Source: S.J.RES.28&H.J.RES.79 2008-SJR28 on Mar 5, 2008

Other candidates on Technology: Barack Obama on other issues:
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden

Third Parties:
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader
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Page last updated: Dec 07, 2008