In a Word: Innovation

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Parties Platforms Tackle the Tech Sector, but Devil is in the Details

A lot will change after today, but for the industry, priority public policies remain the same. But what are the candidates’ priorities? Republicans and Democrats do not agree on much, but if there is one thing they do agree on, this country needs Innovation. A quick word count shows the Republicans used the word 27 times and Democrats used it 16 within each respective Platform document released at the National Conventions this past August and September.  But who’s counting anyway?


With Election Day upon us, the IAB is cracking open those Platform documents once again to take a look at what “Innovation, Internet Freedom, and a 21st Century Workforce” among other buzz words really means to the Democratic and Republican parties’ policy proposals. 

Why does this matter to you?  Whether you are a netizen, tech company, publisher, or just earning your Internet cred, these policies will shape our future, directly and indirectly impacting you personally and your business. Follow along at the links below.

“Moving America Forward: 2012 Democratic National Platform”

“We Believe in America: Republican National Platform”

Education and 21st Century Workforce
Music to any tech wonk’s ears is the increase in STEM education, (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).  The President hopes to double down, and increase investments in science two-fold to educate the next generation of scientists, facilitate private sector innovation, and prepare at least 100,000 new math and science teachers over the coming decade.  To supplement this investment, the President proposes “stapling a green card” to every advanced degree in STEM fields for foreign students to stay here in the U.S. and help create jobs.  The Governor would likewise utilize his red, swing-line stapler to foster job creation and keep STEM degrees in the U.S.  The Governor, however, focuses on increased STEM education through consumer choice in education, removing boundary barriers to school choice, and replacing teaching tenure systems with a merit-based approach to help attract the best and brightest talent in the classroom. 

“Do Not Track”
No, this IABer did not slip this paragraph in as a hoax, you read that right.  The words “Do Not Track” appear in the Democratic Platform.  Noting many regulations are outdated, unnecessary, or too costly, the Administration proposes a “simpler, smarter, cost-effective approach to regulation” emphasizing “common sense safeguards.”  The Administration underscored the launch of the Internet Privacy Bill of Rights and self-regulatory agreement for a “Do Not Track” option for consumers as a successful example of an efficient and effective approach to regulation. 

Internet Freedom
While the Democratic platform seeks to reform how government regulates, the Republican platform points to the removal of regulatory barriers.  Specifically, the Republican party’s Internet Freedom platform would seek to prevent legacy regulations from interfering with new, disruptive technologies, protect the current multi-stakeholder approach to Internet governance, and secure personal data from government overreach.  Even more, the Republican platform calls for a retreat from what it argues is the current Administration’s “Luddite” approach to technological progress (citing net neutrality), preferring instead a public-private partnership to build out America’s wireline and wireless broadband infrastructure.   The President has likewise opposed extension of intergovernmental controls over the Internet and supports the multi-stakeholder approach; however, Internet Freedom takes on a different meaning that points to human rights.  The Administration will continue to defend Internet Freedom for the freedom of expression, assembly, and association, and preserve the Internet platform for commerce, debate, learning, and innovation, identified in some circles as net neutrality.

Digital Infrastructure
The Governor’s proposals are very specific, albeit not identified as infrastructure in the document.  The Republican platform would reform communications laws, encourage public-private partnerships to build out rural broadband, and conduct an inventory of federal spectrum for private sector build out.  The President has committed to ensuring 98% of the country has access to high-speed wireless Internet access, including solutions to free up spectrum and build out a nationwide, interoperable public safety network, as well as building a smarter electrical grid and upgrading IT infrastructure for the health and education sectors. 

To some the magic words are tax reform, still others may be happy to just see repatriation, but for everyone in the tech sector until reform comes to fruition (last in 1986), the Research and Development tax credit is always a top priority.  Both the President and the Governor would permanently extend the R&D credit for innovators.  That is where the similarities end.  Democrats support lowering the corporate tax rate in exchange for closing tax loopholes, and would lower rates even further for manufacturers who create jobs in the U.S.  The Governor would reduce the corporate tax rate, repeal the corporate alternative minimum tax, and create a territorial system of corporate taxation to allow for the repatriation of investments to the U.S.

And leaving little to distinguish the two parties…

Intellectual Property
At the heart of the tech sector is our nation’s knowledge assets - the creativity and ideas that anchor a successful business.  This is not lost on either party, as both seek to vigorously defend intellectual property here and abroad. 

Important both for our Nation’s security and a flourishing Internet economy, any cybersecurity policy will have a lasting effect on how companies function in the ecosystem.  Both parties seek a free flow of information between the government and the private sector, but neither spell out the path forward for secure communication channels or obligations. Following the release of the Platform document in Charlotte, the President has since released a draft executive order that tracks the Cyber Security Act of 2012 citing congressional inaction.

About the Author


Sarah Hudgins

Sarah Hudgins is Director, Public Policy, IAB. Follow her @SarahAHudgins.