Giuliani Invokes the Technology Panacea
If nothing else, Rudy Giuliani is a savvy politician who knows how to play to the technology crowd.
Whether from the stump or in the debates, the former New York City mayor and current Republican presidential candidate invokes technology as the magic bullet to solve the country's problems.
In a September keynote address to the Northern Virginia Technology Council, Giuliani tossed out the red meat to Washington area tech executives. "Technology is also about you, the entrepreneur … business is the American story," he said, waxing ebullient about the explosive growth of the Internet.
"The question is: How do we not put a lid on that growth," Giuliani added. "Government needs to get out of the way of private enterprise."
At the Dec. 12 Republican debate in Johnston, Iowa, Giuliani took on Democrats and some members of his own party over free trade. As Giuliani sees it, there can't be enough of it.
"America is a country of entrepreneurs and dreamers and creators, and what we should be thinking about is how much we can sell to these people as they're coming out of poverty," Giuliani said. "Twenty million, 30 million people in India, China—these are new customers. We're big dreamers here in this country. We've got plenty we can sell all over the world that'll make up for what we're buying."
The month before at a debate in Dearborn, Mich., Giuliani dismissed criticisms that U.S. free trade agreements fail to insist on environmental and human rights protections from trading partners.
Click here to read about Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama's IT platform.
"There's economic protection, and then there's protection for safety, security and legal rights," he said. "And I don't think we've done a particularly good job on the second. We can't say because these agreements weren't perfect, because they have problems, because they have issues, we're going to turn our back on free trade."
As for new taxes or regulations on the Internet, forget about it, particularly on Internet connections. "There are people who are proposing taxing the Internet. That'd be a really, really big mistake," Giuliani said in Dearborn.
Like all Republicans running for the White House, Giuliani has made much of the fact that the Democrats approved in October a seven-year extension of a ban on state and local governments taxing broadband connections and imposing other levies and fees that treat Internet commerce differently than brick-and-mortar businesses.
Democrats should have made the ban permanent, Giuliani said, ignoring the fact that when Republicans were in control of Congress, they twice passed on the opportunity to do just that.
Giuliani's free trade, no new taxes, pro-business stance also extends to regulation of the Internet. While he has taken no public stance on network neutrality, it can be safely assumed he lines up with other Republican candidates in opposing rules on broadband carriers that would prohibit discriminatory treatment of Internet traffic.
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Unlike the other candidates, however, Giuliani opposes additional laws targeted at predators and pornography on the Internet.
"I think it's the new serious area of crime that's emerging. First of all, let's separate the economics from the safety and security, like we have to do with free trade agreements," Giuliani said in the Dearborn debate. "We should police the Internet, in that we should make sure that child predators aren't taking advantage of the Internet. There are a lot of good state and local law enforcement efforts in that regard."
Instead of new laws for policing the Internet, Giuliani proposes a joint federal-state task force to share information.
Giuliani also draws applause from tech groups for supporting an increase in H-1B visas that allow foreign students with U.S. advanced degrees to stay and work in the country. His call for an increase in H-1B visas is hardly surprising since all presidential candidates from both parties take a similar stance. He insists the United States. needs legal immigrants "throughout the economy…who want to work hard and are willing to do jobs that are critical to our economy."
Read more here about Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney's view on free trade and IT policy.
Where Giuliani strays from the pack, however, is the use of technology in immigration policy. While fully supporting a physical fence between Mexico and the United States, Giuliani also touts a virtual fence of sensors and cameras to help curb illegal immigration. "[Technology] can keep us safe," Giuliani said in Virginia.
Giuliani also says a "tamper-proof" identification card for foreign workers entering the country would help "rationally, sensibly, effectively and productively" deal with illegal immigration.
To pay for all these tech proposals, Giuliani returns to his free trade stance. "The way to balance the books is sell more overseas," he says. "Sell energy independence. Sell health care."
Ultimately, Giuliani hopes his positions will sell him to technology voters.
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