I recently heard a man remark on a New York radio station that when it comes to this year’s presidential candidates, “There’s not a dime of difference between them.”
My immediate reaction was that this gentleman obviously hasn’t been paying attention, but when I looked quickly at the candidates’ positions on technology issues, I began to think the radio guy might have a point.
Certainly Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama have substantive differences on a host of issues, but when it comes to technology, it sounds like the same person could have written both of their platforms.
Nevertheless, a closer review of the candidates’ technology positions as expressed on their Web sites did reveal a clear–and surprising–winner. Let’s look at the issues:
Net Neutrality. Both candidates say they want the Internet to remain a free and open medium, but Sen. Obama favors “net neutrality,” while Sen. McCain does not. According to Cnet News, network operators want to charge Internet content providers for enhanced IP services, while Net neutrality proponents say regulations are needed to prevent abuse by the Net’s gatekeepers. Network companies certainly have a right to make money, but, by the same token, abuse needs to be prevented. This is a tough issue to which neither side has an ideal solution.
Internet Access. Sen. McCain believes that Americans at all income levels should have access to high-speed Internet services. Sen. Obama agrees. The difference is that Sen. Obama would use federal government funds (our taxes) to pay for needed improvements, while Sen. McCain would seek to encourage private investment, as well as local government participation. In a fiscally sensitive time, it makes more sense to pursue the latter course.
R&D Tax Credit. Both candidates want to make the current federal research and development tax credit permanent to spur technology innovation. Sen. McCain further proposes to leave the capital gains tax where it is to further encourage such efforts. Sen. Obama has stated his intention to raise the capital gains tax. Bad move.
Energy Exploration. Sen. McCain wants the U.S. to expand domestic oil exploration and expand the use of domestic natural gas supplies to cut energy prices. Sen. Obama proposes to enact a windfall profits tax on energy profits that would provide a $1,000 rebate to American families. He also wants to tap into the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve in order to cut prices.