Sparky Anderson, who managed World Series-winning teams in Cincinnati and Detroit, once remarked, “We’re getting close to opening day. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing.” January 3rd, 2013 marked American policymaking’s opening day: the start of the 113th Congress. We in the tech industry see the start of a new season of policymaking as a good thing because ours is an industry rooted in optimism. We have helped send men to the moon and are empowering the once powerless. Our innovations are force multipliers for opportunity, jobs and growth, and are only limited by our own imaginations.
Our industry’s agenda for the 113th Congress reflects our optimism – a belief that this new Congress can be an engine of policy innovation, and an enabler of economic renewal and national optimism. It is an agenda with three key themes:
Promoting U.S. Growth and Competitiveness
No issue can better align the U.S. tech industry with U.S. economic growth and competitiveness more than modernizing the antiquated U.S. corporate tax system to attract and retain domestic investment and generate new businesses and jobs. Our key priorities will be to adopt a competitive market-based/territorial system, reduce the corporate tax rate, and establish permanent investment incentives, including the research and development (R&D) tax credit. During debate on the so-called “fiscal cliff” legislation just a few days ago, Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp said that passage of that legislation moves us “one step closer to comprehensive tax reform that will strengthen our economy and create more and higher paychecks for American workers.” Chairman Camp’s words are our industry’s hope, and we look forward to making his words and our top legislative priority a reality in 2013.
We also have renewed hope that 2013 will be the year we enact bipartisan high-skilled immigration reform. The evidence is overwhelming that if our economy is to flourish in the near and long term, we need to continue to develop and attract talented entrepreneurs and innovators. Reforms in our high-skilled immigration system will help fill the tens of thousands of skilled jobs currently available, as well as create new jobs through business startups and expansion. Looking longer term, we will continue to pursue policies that create responsive and robust science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs in K-12 and higher education.
A skilled, innovative workforce and a state-of-the-art information network infrastructure are also needed if we are to continue to achieve advances in mobile connectivity, cybersecurity, and cloud computing. Public policies in these areas should be focused on unleashing, not stifling, innovation.
Protecting Consumer Benefits of Information Technology
Consumer confidence in the effectiveness and integrity of our information technology infrastructure is essential if our industry is to realize its economic and job-creating potential. That is why, when it comes to consumer privacy, continued work between Congress and our industry is needed to educate consumers on how data are used and stored, how consumers can protect themselves when sharing data online, and in developing industry practices to provide transparent information to consumers. This shared vigilance by industry and government will benefit the public without stifling innovation.
The longstanding approach to Internet governance also requires private-public vigilance, especially given the divisive outcome of the December 2012 World Conference on International Telecommunications in Dubai. A longer-term effort involving industry and like-minded policymakers with the U.S. and other governments is needed to ensure that Internet governance and related standards and cybersecurity continue to benefit all Internet users.
We also will be accelerating several initiatives to promote policies and actions that encourage “smart” solutions for energy efficiency, and to preserve our industry’s ability to continue legitimate reuse and recycling practices, which will help ensure global availability of low-cost technology products to consumers.
Pursuing Increased Global Market Access
The success story that is the high tech industry is one that is global in scope. Our products and services are known and sought around the world, and with 95% of today’s consumers living outside the United States, continued success and growth of our industry will come with maintaining and opening new markets abroad. That’s why we worked to achieve passage of permanent trade relations with Russia just a few short weeks ago, and why we will work with the new Congress to ensure Russia fulfills its commitment to join the Information Technology Agreement – one of the most effective multilateral trade agreements for our industry.
We also support the successful conclusion of the Tran-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, and will work with other industries to seek congressional approval of any TPP-related legislation. The TPP should include strong provisions for next-generation-trade-agreement areas intended to harvest the full economic benefits of the Internet.
Finally, we will look to Congress as part of our broader strategic outreach and coordination between industry and the U.S. and other governments to respond to the growing use of forced localization policies in China, India, and Brazil, among others. Forced localization threatens to undermine global markets and supply chains that have been the source of innovation and business and job generation for our industry and the U.S. economy.
A summary of our entire 2013 congressional agenda can be found here.