Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore unveiled a sweeping new economic plan Wednesday that would create 10 million high technology jobs in the United States within the next 10 years and provide incentives for companies offering high-tech training to their workers.
Within the 191-page plan, released on Gore’s Web site, www.algore2000.com, is a call for the expansion of education and training programs, the elimination of e-commerce tariffs and high-tech trade barriers and the promotion of broadband Internet access and wireless services.
During a preview of the plan Tuesday at a Columbus, Ohio technology firm, Gore said the new economy could “bridge a digital divide between those with access to computers and the Internet and those without, and make lifelong learning more affordable so workers can gain skills for the new economy.”
Under Gore’s plan, companies would receive tax credits of $6,000 (US$) per employee for Internet Technology training in the workplace and the creation of training programs to teach technology skills. The proposal also provides for a tax credit of up to $2,800 in addition to “financial incentives” to pay for higher education costs.
Gore also called for the expansion of education and training programs which he said would promote positive high-tech and e-commerce policies, open foreign markets and reduce federal debt through private investment.
Eliminating the Digital Divide
Noting that government and the private sector must do more to eliminate the “digital divide” that has left many low income workers without technology skills, Gore said he wants to establish 2,000 technology centers in low income communities to give children and adults the computer training they will need to compete in the high-tech workplace.
The vice president also promised to place more computers with Internet access in American classrooms, create after-school technology programs and provide funding for educational research.
Eliminating High-Tech Obstacles
Gore’s plan also calls for changes to the federal tax code to reflect the rapid obsolescence of high tech equipment, as well as updated export controls, the expansion of the Information Technology Agreement — which eliminates tariffs on semiconductors, computers and other computer-related products — and the permanent extension of research and development tax credits.
Gore said he would also advocate an electronic privacy bill of rights and increase the ability of law enforcement to prohibit illegal material on the Internet in order to keep children away from inappropriate content.
GOP High-Tech Plans
Gore’s opponent in the fall election, Texas governor George W. Bush, has also promoted a comprehensive high-tech plan of his own, according to campaign spokesperson Tucker Eskew.
Much of Bush’s plan focuses on his effort to make the nation’s schools “more accountable” for implementing science and math curricula and teaching high-tech subjects.
To create incentive, Bush proposes expanding Pell Grants by $1,000 per student for those who take college level science and math courses in high school. The proposal would also allow parents to create $5,000 tax-free education funds to supplement the technology training their children already receive, Eskew said.
Bush also hopes to earmark $1 billion for a “comprehensive math and science improvement fund.” This money, to be implemented over five years, would further curricular development and provide economic incentives to lure highly qualified math and science teachers to schools in low income neighborhoods.
Like Gore, Bush also plans to combat the digital divide, but his campaign seeks to shift attention away from disseminating computer hardware to schools and communities, and focuses instead on providing software.