Is Bush Good for the Tech Worker?

Opinion: Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper claims re-electing President Bush-and supporting his tax plan and proposal for an "ownership society"-is just what the tech community needs.

The Republican Party, the party of lower taxes and less government, has always been aligned with the nations business interests. So youd think the tech community—an industry growing in importance in the United States and globally—would staunchly support President George W. Bushs re-election.

That hasnt been the case, however. In 2000, tech supported—with votes and contributions—the unsuccessful candidacy of Democrat Al Gore. But this year, if campaign donations are any measure, the industry appears to be moving slightly toward the Republican Party. The Center for the Study of Responsive Politics, a campaign finance group, shows contributions from people working in the computer and Internet business to be just about evenly matched between parties, with 51 percent of contributions going to Democrats and 49 percent to Republicans.

Thats probably not a big surprise to Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper, founder of Draper Fisher Jurvetson. Draper, 46, is a lifelong Republican whose family has enjoyed a long friendship with the Bush family. That makes him one of the best people to call and ask why tech entrepreneurs and others should support Bushs re-election.

In e-mail and on the phone, Draper ticks off his list.

No. 1? Lower taxes are good for business. All business. "If you have higher taxes, that money goes to the government," says Draper. That leaves less money for investment, which, in turn, slows down economic growth. "Youre taking money out of what would be private hands," he says. President Bush has said he wants to make the tax cuts enacted temporarily by his administration permanent, and Draper whole-heartedly supports that idea.

Hitting directly on a fault line separating different parts of the tech work force, Draper says he also worries that Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry would create a more protectionist environment where government would work against international competition for jobs and services. Thats bad for all businesses, says Draper.

/zimages/3/28571.gifWhere do the candidates stand on outsourcing? Find out here.

"Im scared that we as a country will start thinking in terms of protection," says Draper, whose firm is perhaps most famous for backing Hotmail, the free e-mail service (now part of Microsoft) started by an Indian-born entrepreneur.

"We can no longer compete in the world economy," he says, worrying again about protectionism. "So were going to close that door." Thats a short-sighted solution, Draper says.

Next Page: Creating an "ownership society."