Barack Obama on Technology
Democratic President (2008); IL Senator (2004)
FactCheck: High-speed rail for 80% possible; but not soon
Obama repeated his optimistic goal of vastly expanding high-speed rail lines, saying " Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80% of Americans access to high-speed rail. Routes in California and the Midwest are already underway." It's true that routes in
California and Illinois are underway, but the US has a long way to go before 80% of Americans have access to high-speed rail. Right now, there's only one high-speed line operating in the country: the Acela line between Boston, NYC, and DC. The expansion
Obama wants requires the cooperation of Republican governors; [governors in OH & WI] vowed to turn down federal funds for such projects.
Is it feasible to have 80% of Americans with access to high-speed rail? Well, if there's money and political will.
About 80% of Americans live in urban areas, so connecting major cities would do it. Is it feasible in 25 years? We can't predict the future, but we'll note that efforts to launch high-speed rail corridors first began in 1991.
Source: FactCheck.org on 2011 State of the Union speech
Jan 26, 2011
Space-race-level investment in R&D; biotech; & green tech
We know what it takes to compete for the jobs and industries of our time. We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world. The first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation.
Our free enterprise system is what drives innovation. But because it's not always profitable for companies to invest in basic research, throughout our history, our government has provided cutting-edge scientists and inventors with the support that they
This is our generation's Sputnik moment. Two years ago, I said that we needed to reach a level of research and development we haven't seen since the height of the Space Race. I will be sending a budget to Congress that helps us meet that goal.
We'll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology--an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.
Source: FactCheck.org on 2011 State of the Union speech
Jan 26, 2011
High-speed rail for 80% of US; high-speed web for 98% of US
To attract new businesses to our shores, we need the fastest, most reliable ways to move people, goods, and information--from high-speed rail to high-speed Internet. Our infrastructure used to be the best, but our lead has slipped. The jobs created by
the transcontinental railroad & the Interstate Highway System didn't just come from laying down track or pavement. They came from businesses that opened near a town's new train station or the new off-ramp.
We've begun rebuilding for the 21st century.
And tonight, I'm proposing that we redouble those efforts. We'll put more Americans to work repairing crumbling roads and bridges. Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80% of Americans access to high-speed rail. Within the next five years, we'll make it
possible for businesses to deploy the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98% of all Americans. This isn't just about faster Internet or fewer dropped calls. It's about connecting every part of America to the digital age.
Source: FactCheck.org on 2011 State of the Union speech
Jan 26, 2011
National broadband plan: increase access to 90% by 2020
Unfortunately, when it comes to broadband, America is falling behind. In 2001, the US ranked 4th among industrialized countries in broadband access. By 2009, we had dropped to 15th. Breaking the numbers down by race and income reveals depressing
discrepancies. For instance, around 65% of Asian Americans, Caucasians, and Hispanics use broadband at home; that usage rate falls to 46% for African Americans. Among household earning more than $100,000 a year, 88% have access to broadband versus 54%
among households making between $30,000 and $40,000.
To help close the widening gap between us and the rest of the digitally connected world, the Obama administration has proposed a national broadband plan, with the goal of increasing broadband access
from around 63% currently to 90% by 2020. The plan would also ensure that every high school graduate is digitally literate. This sounds great. But 2020? That hardly has the sense of urgency you'd expect from a country that is quickly falling behind.
Source: Third World America, by Arianna Huffington, p.112-113
Sep 2, 2010
$13B stimulus funds to upgrade rail lines & build new ones
The Wall Street Journal reported that "US transportation chief Ray Lahood is in Spain meeting with high-speed rail suppliers. Europe's engineering and rail companies are lining up for some potentially lucrative US contracts for high-speed rail projects.
At stake is $13 billion in stimulus funds that the Obama administration is allocating to upgrade existing rail lines and build new ones that could one day rival Europe's fastest."
Source: Hopes and Prospects, by Noam Chomsky, p. 95-96
Jun 1, 2010
Cancel moon program; develop human mission to Mars
Obama wants to end NASA's moon program, turn over space transportation to commercial companies and jump-start technologies needed for future human exploration of Mars.
NASA has been working to develop a replacement for the space shuttles, which are
being retired this year after five more missions to complete construction of the orbiting International Space Station, a $100 billion project of 16 nations.
Obama's budget ends work on the shuttle follow-on vehicle, known as Orion, as well as a pair
of rockets developed to fly astronauts to the space station, the moon and other destinations in the solar system.
"We are proposing canceling the program, not delaying it," said a spokesperson. Funds previously earmarked for the Constellation program,
initially intended to return US astronauts to the moon by 2020, instead would be used for research projects that include robotics and other technologies needed to prepare for an eventual human mission to Mars.
Source: Reuters wire service, "Obama axes NASA moon plan"
Jan 31, 2010
There's no reason Europe & China should have fastest trains
We can put Americans to work today building the infrastructure of tomorrow. From the first railroads to the Interstate Highways, our nation has always been built to compete. There's no reason Europe or China should have the fastest trains.
I'll visit Tampa FL, where workers will soon break ground on a new high-speed railroad funded by the Recovery Act. There are projects like that all across this country that will create jobs and help move our nation's goods, services, and information.
Source: 2010 State of the Union Address
Jan 27, 2010
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
Invest in a digital smart grid for electricity utilities
Obama's plan states that it "will reduce oil consumption by at least 35%, or 10 million barrels per day, by 2030." Obama's plan to set America on a path to energy independence states that he will:
Source: Obamanomics, by John R. Talbott, p.137
Jul 1, 2008
- Increase fuel economy standards: Obama will double
fuel economy standards within eighteen years. Obama will also invest in advanced vehicle technology such as advanced lightweights materials and new engines.
- Set national building efficiency goals: Barack Obama will establish a goal of making all new
buildings carbon neutral, or produce zero emissions, by 2030. He'll also establish a national goal of improving new building efficiency by 50% and existing building efficiency by 25% over the next decade to help us meet the 2030 goal.
- Invest in a
digital smart grid: Obama will pursue a major investment in our utility grid to enable a tremendous increase in renewable generation and accommodate modern energy requirements, such as reliability, smart metering, and distributed storage.
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
Feb. 2008: Had 250,000 members on Facebook to Clinton's 3250
Behind the scenes, his staff used the Internet to build a nationwide volunteer organization, and fundraising juggernaut. The campaign website allowed individuals to stay informed about the national and local efforts; make telephone calls to voters throug
a central database and update records based on results; and start mini-campaigns, complete with fundraising systems, blogs and events, to organize people in their geographic area or with shared interests. Managers guided the torrent of activism harnessed
by the system first to one battleground, then another.
The public responded. On Jan. 16, a University of North Dakota graduate started "One Million Strong for Barack," on the Facebook social networking site. The group attracted over
100,000 members in nine days: one of the fastest growth rates ever seen at Facebook. There were more than 250,000 members when Obama officially launched his campaign on Feb. 11. The biggest pro-Clinton group on the site at the time had just 3,251 members
Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 49
Apr 1, 2008
Incentives for next-generation broadband in every community
Source: Campaign booklet, ďBlueprint for ChangeĒ, p. 10-15
Feb 2, 2008
- Deploy Next-Generation Broadband:Obama believes we can get broadband to every community in America through a combination of reform of the Universal Service Fund, better use of the nationís wireless spectrum, promotion of next-generation
facilities, technologies and applications, and new tax and loan incentives.
- Protect the Openness of the Internet:Obama supports the basic principle that network providers should not be allowed to charge fees to privilege the content or
applications of some web sites and Internet applications over others. This principle will ensure that the new competitors, especially small or nonprofit speakers, have the same opportunity as big companies to innovate and reach large audiences.
Invest in Rural Areas:Obama will invest in rural small businesses and fight to expand high-speed Internet access. He will improve rural schools and attract more doctors to rural areas.
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.
Proponents of the bill say to vote YEA because:
- [In my state], Philadelphia's 30th Street station is the second busiest train station nationally, with over 3.7 million boarding a year. And 3,000 people are employed by Amtrak in Pennsylvania. Amtrak and the health of Amtrak is important.
- Last year the Senate transportation bill had $1.45 billion for Amtrak, which is obviously more than the $900 million in the current budget proposal. I am offering an amendment to increase that funding from the $900 million which is in the bill right now to the $1.45 billion level and adding $550 million.
- I support funding through the section 920 account [without a tax increase]. We have seen that without raising the cap or without raising taxes, the Senate has been able to
come up with a robust number for Amtrak which I will support within the context of a responsible budget.
- We have spent less money on Amtrak in the last 35 years than we will on highways in this year alone. And highways don't pay for themselves, even with the gas tax. Neither does mass transit, either in this country or anywhere else in the world. But we subsidize them because they improve the quality of our lives.
- We have never provided the kind of commitment to Amtrak that we have for other modes of transportation, and this amendment will be an important step to getting Amtrak off the starvation budgets that it has subsisted on for far too long.
Opponents of the bill say to vote NAY because:
Reference: Santorum amendment to Transportation funding bill;
Bill S.Amdt.3015 to S.Con.Res.83
; vote number 2006-052
on Mar 15, 2006
- The problem with that is there is no money in the section 920 account. If we want to talk about "funny money" financing, that is it--taking money from an account that has no money. This whole budget takes money we don't have. The result is we keep running up the debt.
Close digital divide with high-tech training.
Obama adopted the CBC principles:
The CBC recognizes technology as one of the most important issues minorities must address over the next decade. They are focused on closing the digital divide and moving towards digital empowerment for all Americans.
Source: Congressional Black Caucus press release 01-CBC9 on Jan 6, 2001
- Training Workers for the New Economy. The CBC believes that we need to train American workers for high-tech jobs. The majority of the high-wage jobs in the new economy are in the high-tech industry; and the U.S. high-tech industry pays higher wages than any other private sector industry. The H-1B training grants and other high-tech training grants should be targeted to train women, youth, minorities, military veterans and people with disabilities who are now under-represented in the high-tech industry. We will also seek to partner with the high-tech industry on both the hiring and retention of those persons in the previously mentioned groups who already have high-tech skills. We believe in lifelong learning and will work to support programs that help adults continue enhancing both their education and job skills. Technology skills will be critical to helping adults improve their professional standing.
Ensure net neutrality: no corporate-tiered Internet.
Obama co-sponsored ensuring net neutrality: no corporate-tiered Internet
A bill to amend the communications act of 1934 to ensure net neutrality:
- Broadband service providers shall not interfere with the ability of any person to use a broadband service to access or offer any lawful content via the Internet;
- only prioritize content or services based on the type of content or services and the level of service purchased by the user, without charge for such prioritization.
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: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
- provide separate information for each field of study;
- be searchable by category and combinations of categories;
- indicate programs targeted toward specific demographic groups;
- provide searchers with program sponsor contact information and hyperlinks; and
- 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.
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
- Improving application programming interface and website data elements.
- Recipient performance transparency. [For federal awards, show on internet...]
- a unique award identifier that identifies each individual award vehicle;
- the date that the financial award was made;
- the agency and department as well as subagencies and suboffices that have authorized the Federal award;
- in negotiated procurements, the highest, lowest, and median offered price among all technically acceptable proposals or bids.
- For all contracts after 2010, [show on internet...]
- both a copy in a format that reproduces the original image of each page and a copy in searchable text format of the request for proposals, the announcement of the award, the contract, and the scope of work to be performed;
- information about the extent of competition in making the award, including the number of qualified bids or proposals during the competitive process, and if the award was not competed, the legal authority and specific rationale for making the award without full and open competition;
- PRESENTATION OF DATA- The website shall present information about Federal awards providing search results for novices displayed in summary form; and
- providing more detailed information for more sophisticated users
- Performance Transparency- performance of individual contractors and recipients of financial assistance starting with awards given in fiscal year 2008 including an assessment of the quality of work performed on Federal awards during the past 5 years; and information about Federal audit disputes and resolutions.
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
Page last updated: Jul 23, 2011