GOP’s Serious 2016 Alternatives Have Serious Problems of Their Own

29 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

How to watch the Colorado Republican debate.

Just like last month, former Pennsylvania Sen. BOULDER — As the Republican candidates for president arrived in the liberal bastion that is Boulder, attitudes swung widely from apathy to anguish to curiosity. No longer just a bunch of scrappy startups struggling for their place at the bargaining table, Silicon Valley’s top companies—Google, Facebook, Apple, and others—now spend millions of dollars a year lobbying for their industry’s interests. If you don’t have a username and password set up with your cable provider, you’ll need to create an account with them when you go through the process.” Jeb Bush’s standing in the race has never been weaker. Scott Walker has since dropped out of the race, for instance — one thing has remained largely the same: The GOP campaign is still dominated by outsider candidates.

Politicians like tech companies, not only because they paint a rosy picture of the future, but because they’re among the top job creators in the country. But conservative-leaning University of Colorado junior Allison Davis, 21, of Fort Collins saw an opportunity for engagement as she dined on a breakfast burrito in the University Memorial Center dining hall. “The students have a big stake in this, so I hope the candidates speak to us with specifics instead of just insulting each other.

Plus, their idealistic, largely white-collar workforce tends to have deep pockets, turning the tech sector into a bigger source of campaign funding than other politically powerful and entrenched industries like defense and big pharma in recent years. That insults people’s intelligence.” At lunchtime in a courtyard outside the Memorial Center, “Brother Jed” Smock, a firebrand campus evangelist from Terre Haute, Ind., waved a leather Bible and shouted fire-and-brimstone admonishments to more than 100 students. Candidates are all too aware of this shift, so they make frequent stops at tech startups and carve out time on the campaign trail for fundraising trips to Silicon Valley.

The quartet, all just barely registering on national polls, will be trying to have a breakout moment that could jumpstart their campaign and launch them onto the next main debate stage — as business woman Carly Fiorina did in the first debate. And yet, if you were judging by any of the first three debates of this election season (five, if you’re counting the Republican undercard), you would never guess just how influential the tech industry is.

Carl Quintanilla, who co-anchors the network’s Squawk on the Street and Squawk Alley; Becky Quick, who co-anchors Squawk Box; and John Harwood, CNBC’s chief Washington correspondent. But expanding the GOP brand is exactly what the party had in mind, said Fred Brown, an RNC spokesman. “Colorado is a key battleground state in 2016 and we are very pleased to hold a debate in Boulder,” he said. “We’re excited to expand on Republican gains we made in 2014 with Cory Gardner’s election to the U.S. Scott Walker quit the race, the 44-year-old first-term senator is considered one of the few candidates who can bridge the GOP’s warring factions by appealing to establishment and hard-line wings. There’s continued to be teeth gnashing over this format — Jindal, who has seen improving poll numbers in Iowa, threatened to not even attend tonight. In fact, a recent survey of venture capitalists by the National Venture Capitalist Association found that a full two-thirds of investors cited immigration reform as the most pressing issue policy makers need to address.

Still, as the clock ticks down to Iowa, all will be facing difficult decisions in recent weeks and months, with their fundraising dwindling, to make a case to carry on. Candidates in the main debate, in order of their polling finish, are: Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Chris Christie, John Kasich and Rand Paul. Groups like FWD.us, backed by Mark Zuckerberg, are pushing for an increase in H-1B visas, which would allow companies like Facebook to employ more foreign workers. Rand Paul sat at a table filled with students in CU’s Center for Community to talk taxes, his positive position on marijuana legalization, student debt and energy policy at lunchtime Wednesday.

Democratic candidate Martin O’Malley met with families of victims from the Newtown, Columbine and Aurora mass shootings to talk about gun violence Tuesday afternoon at the university. The panel was expected to include a student with liberal-leaning views and one with a conservative take, as well as two student journalists, Aaron Estevez-Miller, the Student Voices Count coordinator at CU and a senior from Loveland majoring in economics and international affairs. “It’s so important that this kind of age young people have an important, engaging, meaningful political experience, because for many of these people it’s their first presidential election, and the way they’re experience it, if they feel excluded, they’re not going to embrace their civic responsibility.” On the other side of the aisle, Senator Bernie Sanders has expressed concerns over what more H-1Bs would do to wages, calling the push “a massive effort to attract cheap labor.” So far, Republican Sen. He has shown a willingness to say or do virtually anything on national television, and heading into the debate, he has jabbed at just about every challenger — none more so than Carson.

Or the moment when former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina said the government needed to “tear down these cyberwalls” that protect tech companies like Apple and Google from the prying eyes of the government. More recently, during the Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton defended her vote in favor of the Patriot Act, which created the NSA’s surveillance program, but stressed the need for a “balance of civil liberties, privacy and security.” Sanders, meanwhile, received applause for voting against the Patriot Act in the Senate, saying he would shut down the NSA surveillance program as president.

According to Adam Kovacevich, who heads up US public policy at Google, this issue has been key to Google’s conversations with regulators and presidential candidates recently. Specifically, the tech community, and groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, are asking for an update to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act to require the government and law enforcement to secure a warrant before intercepting people’s online communications and data. “We all have much more of our communications in the cloud than we ever used to,” Kovacevich says. “Unfortunately, right now we’re living under a 1980s-era law that provides less protection for documents stored in the cloud than a hard copy document.” He adds that Google is also trying to enforce the idea that strong encryption is a “best practice” for Internet companies today, and that it is the first line of defense against hackers. Just last week, Icahn pledged $150 million to a new Super PAC that he said would work to fix the tax system to give US companies have fewer incentives to move their operations—and profits—overseas. What’s more, she says, there may be strings attached, which require American companies to shift even more intellectual property and resources overseas. “They’re going to tax overseas profits that American companies have in their regions and put in place rules and incentives to keep that money flowing for years to come,” Moore says. Etsy is another company leading the fight for reform, not only to protect itself, but to protect its sellers. “It’s something we’re very concerned about,” says Althea Erickson, global policy director at Etsy. “We’re supportive of Congress passing reforms to curb some of the most rampant abuses of patents.” There are currently two bills before Congress that deal with patent reform: the Innovation Act and the PATENT Act.

As Florin wrote in an op-ed last year, they worry that any legislation to ward off patent trolls would necessarily weaken the patent portfolios of legitimate patent holders. Though the gig economy is still a small sliver of the overall economy in the US, the debate over whether these workers should be considered full-time employees or part-time contractors has already reached the national stage. While Uber and other on-demand startups argue that they are merely platforms on which people can find flexible work, labor advocates and the workers themselves say they are full-time jobs and ought to be classified as such.

It’s a niche debate that doesn’t necessarily impact the entire tech industry, and yet, as this model of employment becomes increasingly popular, both businesses and candidates are grappling over how to regulate it. For conservatives like Rubio, who has spoken at length about the on-demand economy, Uber has become a ready example of the dangers of over-regulating business. The rise of cloud computing means US tech companies are now ferrying data to and from countries all over the world—and regulators in those countries are beginning to take issue with the unfettered movement of their citizens data across borders. Without that protection, countries could force tech companies to store every country’s data within that country, making it much more expensive to operate overseas. President Obama has already begun this work with both the ConnectEd and ConnectHome initiatives, which are public-private partnerships that aim to expand broadband access in low-income homes and schools.

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