Is a Democratically Controlled Congress Good for Tech USA?

by Jeremy Jones

I realize that this is way off topic for what I typically write. But this is an honest question. It's not a troll. It's hopefully not flamebait. And it for sure isn't an attempt to push my political bias. I want anyone who is interested and can cordially formulate their thoughts to voice themselves, whether you answer the question "Is a Democratically Controlled Congress Good for Tech America?" in the affirmative or in the negative. Feel free to point out failings of the previous Congress and point out how the new Congress will do better. Or point out the strengths of the previous Congress and how the policies of the new Congress will be detrimental to the technological well-being of the United States.

Here are some guidelines:

  1. No bashing of any person or political party. I'm not in the habit of editing or deleting comments, but I will remove any bashing comments.

  2. Try to focus on the technological implications of this new Congress. I don't want comments specifically of the economy, taxes, abortion, religion, etc. unless there is a direct tie to technology.

I'm really interested in reading your comments.


2006-11-09 15:04:22
If nothing else, it means that executive branch and the legislative branch have to work together to come up with solutions that the everyone in America will support (since each party controls one side and both sides seem to have about 50% of the country). Slow can be good, and since each side is probably out to get the other, we'll probably see less blatant corruption.
Rick Thomas
2006-11-09 15:50:45
The question is quite broad. The part of Tech America that includes the telecom giants is very frustrated right now that the big telecom goodie bag hasn't become law yet. On the other hand fans of net neutrality aren't cheering yet because some Democrats are aligned with the entertainment industry and others with high tech and its not obvious what the consensus will be (and no doubt the telecoms are lobbying hard too.)

As for open source and patent issues, I'm not sure that's on any politician's radar.

What do you think?

2006-11-09 16:31:03
Given Democrat control of the Senate I assume that Ted Stevens will no longer be the head of the Commerce Committee, which, given his obvious lack of understanding of anything tech related, can only be a Good Thing.
2006-11-09 19:47:13
I think the biggest problem with any congress is their overall lack of understand or comprehensive of technical issues. One positive about the current congress is the decision to leave the so-called "net neutrality" alone. Technology issues evolve and change so rapidly that new legislation introduced by congress often arrives too late for it to be relevant to the problem it is usually dealing with. It remains to be seen what the democratically controlled congress will pursue in terms of tech issues. Tech issues are not at the forefront of politics right now, and I personally have seen any politician discuss tech issues period.
2006-11-09 22:40:29
It is probably neutral. Neither party really gets it as far as technology goes. he Democrats are probably going to be more protectionist about trade, but I have no idea if that will extend to contract work. But some US tech company's require access to overseas development teams, so if that was cut off, that would be bad for them. But might result in some people employeed in tech in the US, maybe. Or maybe those companies would disappear.
2006-11-09 23:58:56
What does it matter, democrats and republicans are like the left and right wing of the same party, designed to give you the glowy warm feeling that you actually had a choice.
In a one party system, what's the significance who sits how in Congress?
Michele Mauro
2006-11-10 00:09:01
Please rephrase your question in "Is a Democratically Controlled Congress Good for Tech USA?", because the term 'America' (at least outside of the USA) include lots of territories that are not under the rule of the USA Congress or the USA Government in general. Thanks in advance.

Michele Mauro

Jeremy Jones
2006-11-10 03:17:50
Michael Mauro,

Thanks for the suggestion. Done.

Jeremy Jones
2006-11-10 03:25:29

Net neutrality is one issue I was thinking would probably see some attention. My feeling has been that Democrats are tending to align with content providers and Republicans are tending to align with telecoms. Maybe that's an incorrect perception, but it seems like it may be generally correct. I'm open to correction on that point.

On patents, I have a hard time seeing how a politician would think it's in h(is|er) political benefit to reform the patent system. But that whole mess needs a huge overhaul. I don't understand how a company can have a patent to a file format or an idea of on-click-checkout. And then open source raises the complexity of the issue. How many open sourcers are going to be willing (let alone able) to pursue patents of their work. Probably none. But, sadly, I don't think either party is particularly interested in working through the issue and figuring it out.

Jeremy Jones
2006-11-10 03:44:05

Excellent point re exporting jobs/importing work (however you want to look at it). I hadn't even thought of that particular issue, but changing laws around where you get tech work done could have huge technological implications. Thanks for the post!

Jeremy Jones
2006-11-10 03:47:02

You're correct about the Democratic and Republican closeness of positions. However, I've read some conjecture that perhaps this election is driving the Republican party further to the right. If that's the case, I'm not sure what the immediate result will be since they are no longer in power.

2006-11-10 07:45:30
However, I've read some conjecture that perhaps this election is driving the Republican party further to the right. If that's the case, I'm not sure what the immediate result will be since they are no longer in power.
I've read far more comments along these lines:
Sen. Arlen Specter, the moderate conscience of Pennsylvania Republicans, on Wednesday urged the party to re-evaluate its priorities in the wake of nationwide election losses and called for a more progressive agenda that changes the strategy in Iraq and puts more emphasis on education and health care at home.
In addition to the war, which he called a key factor in the losses of fellow Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Rick Santorum and others, Specter said his party will have to become "a lot more progressive and a lot less ideological."
2006-11-10 08:12:00
I don't think it will make a lick of a difference. Nancy Pelosi is no Newt Gingrich. Regardless of what folks think about the issues Newt chose, the conservatives were most effective in his time because he did a great job of focusing the house on a handful of issues and selling mainstream US voters on those issues. The house wanted to get behind Newt because he made them look good.

We're in for another Hastert era. Just about everything is going to boil down to a close vote with both sides trading votes for local favors, with the public generally unaware about what's on the ballot at any given time. That means a ton of half-way measures, with anything on the table that can be taxed or controlled for gain.

I say it's going to be as bad for tech as recent years have been.

Oliver Luker
2006-11-10 09:35:45
With respect to those of you who are american citizens and thus arguably more able to approach this question, my perspective is quite simply that the question is far from clearly defined. What is meant by 'Tech America' is unclear, not to mention inherent problems in terms such as 'good', 'for', etc.

If, for example, one chooses a 'standard' interpretation - after all, we all know what the words mean, right? -
Tech America - those individuals and/or organizations occupied either by choice or through contractual obligation with the business of creating, working with, or developing processes to deal with technology, in this instance meaning specifically computing and computing-related products
Good - generally beneficial

So ... a seller of tech books is in?

Anyway, assume that wide open definition. Now, what do we understand about this group? Is it a broadly individualist or a broadly socialist group? Scratch that, even - we could simply come up with a list of comparisions. But without the list of comparisions, the question becomes so nebulous as to defy response.

It may be an honest question - it's also very difficult to approach the question as one that has any inherent meaning.

Tim O'Brien
2006-11-17 19:43:36
I tink the answer to your quesstion is, "Let's wait and see". The assumption that the Democratic party is more "in tune" with technology is tenuous at best. I believe that the question also doesn't make sense without qualifying one's perspective. If Congress decides to enact protectionist labor regulations and reduce H1B Visas, this Congress might be good for Tech employees in the short-term but not necessarily the good for the economy in general.

Will a Democrat Congress be better for Net Neutrality? Hmm... Never underestimate the power of lobbyists, they sing a siren song that attracts both parties, and, remember, these days, the campaigning never stops.