About 4 years ago, I wrote a rather prescient piece about which of the Year 2000 presidential candidates would be best for the advancement and use of technology in the U.S. Then-Gov. Bush won my competition by an eyelash, much as he did the actual election.

As November approaches, however, voters must again decide on a national leader and I, your technology leader, will present the technology case for the two major candidates. The format is simple. Ill lay out some key technology issues facing our industry, as well as business and the nation at large. In each case, Ill rate the candidates and give an “edge,” if there is one. At the end of this little exercise the chips, if not the chads, will fall where they may.

Candidates positions are taken from their Web sites and from transcripts of recent speeches.

Expanding Broadband. Both candidates favor expanding broadband (cable or DSL) Internet access in the U.S., with President Bush pushing for having the technology in “every corner of our country” by 2007. Sen. Kerry says he wants to put broadband in the hands of all first-responders by 2006, with others presumably to follow. Edge: Even

Tax Credits for Research and Development. Sen. Kerry favors extending the Research and Experimentation Tax Credit to encourage private sector R&D in technology. President Bush wants to make those tax credits permanent, instead of simply extending them. He also wants to raise federal spending on research and development by 44% over what it was when he took office. Sounds more decisive to me. Edge: Bush

Outsourcing. President Bush favors no restrictions on U.S. firms outsourcing jobs to foreign countries. Outsourcing is a major issue for IT (information technology), which has seen its ranks shrink in the U.S. over the past several years as jobs are exported to other nations. Sen. Kerry wants to end tax breaks for companies shipping jobs overseas, while giving tax breaks to companies who keep jobs in the U.S. That makes sense for our recovering economy. Edge: Kerry

Electronic Health Records. The candidates both favor using information technology to create electronic health records to increase the health care systems efficiency and reduce costs. President Bush points to the need for standards across health care disciplines and providers to make this a reality. Sen. Kerry cites the encouraging possibility that such a database will make creation of “personalized” medicines possible for individuals. Edge: Even

Taxes on Internet/Broadband. Taxation of the Internet is a real possibility, and it would unquestionably be a drag on an economy that is increasingly linked to the World Wide Web. While Senate Republicans and some Democrats favor permanently extending the now-expired moratorium on such taxes, Sen. Kerry wants a limited extension. President Bush favors a permanent ban. Permanent is better. Edge: Bush

Security from Terrorism. President Bush cites technology as a key to helping make our borders more secure against entry by terrorists. Sen. Kerry also sees technology as playing a vital role in ensuring our safety. Neither has concrete proposals. Edge: Even

Technology for a Cleaner Environment. Sen. Kerry favors “using market-oriented, performance-based and other mechanisms” to encourage private-sector development of technology solutions for environmental protection. President Bush believes industry can grow without polluting our environment but has no specific plans to reward such achievements. Sen. Kerrys proactive approach, while lacking details, is a step in the right direction. Edge: Kerry

Alternative Energy. Both candidates say we have to end our dependence on foreign sources of oil. Both say money should be spent on alternative energy technologies, including ethanol, cleaner burning coal and hydrogen fuel cells. President Bush, however, includes nuclear energy in his list of desirable alternatives. While nuclear got a bad rap based on Three-Mile Island, it continues to be used in the U.S. and worldwide, and remains a viable alternative, especially if further developed. Edge: Bush

In summary, both candidates have pro-technology platforms, but the numbers here seem to slightly favor President Bush. His commitment to technology R&D is a particularly powerful position, as is his steadfast opposition to Internet taxation. Whatever your technological persuasion, however, my best guru advice would be: Get out there and vote!


Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, September 16, 2004. Copyright 2004 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.