McCain: No Net Neutrality, No Internet Taxes

Republican presidential hopeful John McCain issues a technology policy statement supporting a permanent research and development tax, expanded H-1B visas, lower capital gains taxes and free trade agreements. McCain differs sharply from Barack Obama, however, on network neutrality. Obama favors government action to mandate nondiscriminatory handling of network traffic while McCain favors a free market approach.

Long on tax cuts, free trade agreements and expanded H-1B visas, Republican presidential hopeful John McCain issued his technology policy Aug. 14, prescribing a dose of open markets and unregulated competition for the nation's IT sector.

While many of McCain's proposals mirror his Democratic opponent Barack Obama's technology policy, a McCain presidency would sharply differ from an Obama presidency on the issue of network neutrality, which would mandate that broadband service providers treat all network traffic in a nondiscriminatory manner.

"John McCain does not believe in prescriptive regulation like net neutrality," the nearly 3,000-word policy statement on McCain's site declared. "Rather, he believes that an open marketplace with a variety of consumer choices is the best deterrent against unfair practices."

Obama promised Oct. 29 to impose network neutrality mandates on broadband providers such as AT&T and Comcast if elected to the White House. Network neutrality laws, Obama said, would create a "level playing field for whoever has the best idea." He has also declared he would appoint an FCC (Federal Communications Commission) chairman who supports network neutrality and a CTO for his administration.

Instead of promoting network neutrality laws, a McCain presidency would instead focus on creating open networks that would allow consumers to attach devices and use services of their choice as long as the devices and services do no harm to the network.

The McCain tech policy also calls for the Department of Labor to set visa levels "appropriate for market conditions." The policy statement claims, "Hiring skilled foreign workers to fill critical shortages benefits not only innovative companies, but also our economy. For every foreign worker hired, corporations generally hire five to 10 additional American workers."

The McCain policy statement promises to provide an "immediate boost to capital expenditures and reward investments in cutting-edge technologies" by allowing companies to expense the costs of new equipment or technology in the first year. The statement claims, "The additional investment stimulated by such expensing will drive economic growth."

McCain would also promote a permanent R&D tax credit equal to 10 percent of wages spent on research and development.

The former chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation, which handles most Internet issues in the Senate, McCain also opposes any new state and local discriminatory taxes and fees on the Internet or wireless services.

Included in the policy recommendations is a "People Connect Program" that rewards companies that offer high-speed Internet access services to low-income customers by allowing these companies to offset their tax liability for the cost of this service.

Like most Republicans and the tech industry in general, McCain is also an ardent supporter of free trade agreements.

"The best protection for American workers is to ensure that they have access to the world's customers, 95 percent of whom live outside the United States," the McCain policy states. "This access is particularly important for workers in the information technology sector where the United States has so much to offer the rest of the world. Lower tariffs on American products benefit American companies and create American jobs."