Technology Focus: Forward With Obama And Biden

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Sandy 30 Oct 2012 Obama FEMA 2
U.S. President Barack Obama asks a question during a FEMA briefing about Hurricane Sandy as it threatens the East Coast, at FEM.A.

There's little doubt the technology sector would be better off if Barack Obama is re-elected as President and Joe Biden as Vice President. The record merits it and the alternative -- along with regressive elements backing it -- is clearly not acceptable.

The argument is relatively simple:  Obama and Biden helped save the U.S. economy from the free fall and lack of confidence created by the reckless fiscal and military policies of the second Bush administration. If anything, the 2009 fiscal stimulus was far too small; federal support of the refinancing of General Motors Corp. (NYSE: GM) and Chrysler helped keep a vital industry afloat.

Now, in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, the leadership shown by Obama, as well as state governors in New York and New Jersey, ought to settle once and for all the spurious Republican argument about “Big Government” and “too much government” and focus attention on infrastructure.

Obama, 51, the first president since Woodrow Wilson to win the Nobel Prize for Peace, also got the country out of Iraq and has promised to get it out of Afghanistan by 2014. The exit ought to be much quicker.

Relations with the rest of the world are far better than when Obama and Biden assumed office. The challenges remain, but with Cabinet secretaries of far greater intelligence and sobriety than the incompetent Donald Rumsfelds and Condoleezza Rices of the George W. Bush years.

Obama's education policies, under Education Secretary Arne Duncan's race to the top, have helped improve U.S. public education with added emphasis on science, math and technology. NASA has scrapped the 1970s space shuttle and manned astronaut programs and replaced it with scientific missions such as Curiosity on Mars.

Other technology advances have included appointing a chief technology officer, chief information officer, passing the new copyright reform law, boosting support for federal agencies such as the National Institutes for Science and Technology (NIST), and devoting more resources to cybersecurity and telecommunications.

If anything, the Obama-Biden policies have not been aggressive enough, starting with the stimulus, which could have been double its size, and support for infrastructure projects such as high-speed rail and research into alternative energy, which Republican governors foolishly labeled “socialist” and refused.

Perhaps a lesson of Superstorm Sandy is that infrastructure is key, whether it's New York City's 19th century design for the subways that left them so prone to flooding or lack of preparedness for storm surges. Of course, Republican orthodoxy holds that global warming is a “hoax,” concocted by “the liberals," etc.

It's time for this to stop, as well as for so much of the opposition to Obama that is essentially based on racism, to end. Obama's big mistake in the summer of 2009 was not to recognize the threat of the Tea Party element, an essentially racist part of American politics that's been around as far back as the Know Nothings of the 1840s, that has metastasized itself into the Republican Party.

Mitt Romney, 65, knows better but lacks the moral integrity to rebut the Tea Party, refute its racist element, and deliver a coherent policy. His “secret” economic plan that includes a $5 trillion tax cut for the wealthiest builds upon the crackpot, Ayn Randian theories of his running mate, 42-year old Wisconsin Rep. Paul D. Ryan, the Chairman of the House Budget Committee.

This plan, coupled with saber-rattling against Iran, Russia and China, retrograde policies on health insurance, Supreme Court nominees, and the role of government, are exactly what the country doesn't need.

Romney, a highly intelligent and well-educated nominee, sabotages his credentials as a moderate and efficient one-term governor of Massachusetts by running away from his record, casting himself as “severely conservative” one minute and a pragmatist the next. To be sure, he enjoys backing from a handful of traditional Republicans in tech, notably including Margaret Whitman of Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) and John Chambers of Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), all masters of massive firings and layoffs.

Obama and Biden are backed by the likes of Eric Schmidt, Chairman of Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG), Reed Hoffman, CEO of LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD) and Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) Chairman Irwin Jacobs.

But who is Romney? Considering his performance in the debates, an annoying salesman from Bain Capital, peddling flimflam economics and vague promises of job creation, whose only firm commitments appear to be against abortion and same-sex marriage.

Republicans have had far better messengers in the past: nominees like Eisenhower and Reagan were comfortable in their own skins; Goldwater, while nuts, had personal integrity and true patriotism that helped save the country at the end of the Watergate scandal, and other greats like their own Roosevelt.

Romney is not cut from the same cloth.

Obama and Biden, a good pair, easily deserve to be re-elected in the hope that their second administration can deliver even more than the first, having proved leadership in restoring economic growth, defeating Bin Laden, and setting a better course for the 21st century.

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