|House NDC | Key
Document | June 27, 2002
By New Democrat Coalition
Invest in Education and a Skilled Workforce
A vibrant and strong New Economy must be built on a foundation of education and a skilled workforce. Quality education at all levels, from early childhood through higher education, is critically important to ensure that America has the best workforce in the world to stay competitive. New Democrats have been longtime supporters of strong public schools, education accountability and reform, and lifelong learning opportunities.
New Democrats played an integral role in ensuring that the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), the education reform bill signed by President Bush, refocused federal education policy on raising academic achievement for every child, provided public schools with more funding and flexibility, targeted those new dollars to districts with the greatest needs and demanded accountability for results. Much of the Act is reflected in the New Democrat's Three R's bill, introduced by Reps. Cal Dooley (Calif.), Adam Smith (Wash.), Tim Roemer (Ind.) and Ron Kind (Wisc.) with eighteen New Democrat co-sponsors in the House.
While federal resources are urgently needed to implement NCLB, additional funds are necessary to help school districts throughout the country that are struggling with the need for new classrooms, whether because of high-growth rates or dilapidated and out-of-date buildings.
Schools cannot afford to be left behind in today's digital economy. New Democrats are strong advocates for the e-rate program, which has helped 98 percent of our schools obtain Internet access. In addition, New Democrat Reps. Ron Kind (Wisc.), Tim Roemer (Ind.), Rush Holt (N.J.) and David Wu (Ore.) worked diligently to strengthen the education technology provision in NCLB.
Investing in the Workforce
New Democrats believe that lifelong learning and job training is critical to workers in the New Economy. We are committed to helping workers develop job skills and support tax incentives to spur investment in our workforce.
Foster the Digital Economy and E-government
Increases in productivity and significant economic growth are the hallmarks of our digital economy. Despite recent slowdowns, the technology sector remains vibrant with the potential to drive gains in high-wage jobs and to reinvigorate the economy. New Democrats remain committed to ensuring that government action is strategic and limited in order to promote growth and encourage innovation and new ventures.
New Democrats understand the importance of protecting consumers' sensitive personal information while also supporting innovation and promoting the free flow of information on the Internet. Committed to bolstering security and fighting fraud and identity theft in order to reinforce consumer trust in, and usage of, the Internet, New Democrats are encouraged by emerging industry-developed privacy technologies, like the Platform for Privacy Preference Project(P3P) specification standard, that can help empower consumers to effectively manage their personal information.
Any consumer privacy legislation enacted by Congress should include a strong federal preemption, not provide for a private right-of-action, and be consistent with the "opt-out" requirements enacted in the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Services Act. New Democrats also believe that Congress should pass legislation that protects consumers in the case of identity theft.
New Democrats recognize that the continued aggressive deployment of high-speed Internet broadband technology by cable, DSL, wireless and satellite providers is essential to the growth of the nation's economy. Consumer demand, coupled with economical access to advanced telecommunications services, particularly in rural communities, will stimulate the development of new technologies that foster telemedicine, long-distance learning opportunities, business-to-business video services and entertainment options.
New Democrats believe that Congress and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) must strike a balance among parties with competing interests on the deployment and use of broadband technology. As part of a comprehensive, nationwide broadband strategy, Congress and the FCC should review the impact of regulations on the deployment of broadband, consider the adoption of tax incentives and explore impediments to "consumer demand," such as digital piracy. New Democrats call on the White House to work with the New Democrat Coalition and Congress to craft and implement an effective strategy for reinvigorating the broadband marketplace.
New Democrats believe the Administration, Congress and private industry must work together to develop a comprehensive spectrum strategy that provides for globally harmonized spectrum and increases the availability of this crucial resource. New Democrats will work with all parties to ensure that spectrum is managed efficiently while remaining mindful of public safety, national security and commercial needs.
The United States is falling behind international competitors and if we do not act now to ensure adequate spectrum within international standards, this trend will continue unabated. Ensuring sufficient spectrum for advanced, third generation (3G) services will be crucial to providing businesses and consumers with the technologies they need to compete and take part in commerce throughout the world. As an important part of bolstering the demand for broadband services, New Democrats seek to expand the available unlicensed spectrum in order to promote growth in short-range, high-speed wireless networking.
New Democrats will oppose efforts, whether through legislation or standards from outside bodies, to require companies to expense employee stock options. Corporate benefit plans that provide for the fair exercise and awarding of stock options to employees have served as a valuable tool that has aligned employee and management interests. New Democrats understand that stock options allow American employees to partner with their employers and invest in their own future. When the employer succeeds, the employee shares in that financial success. Legislation that would require the expensing of stock options on corporate financial statements would lead to inaccurate measurements of earnings and would distort, not clarify, companies' financial statements.
Alternative Minimum Tax
New Democrats support H.R. 1487, introduced by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (Calif.) with 60 bi-partisan cosponsors, which amends the alternative minimum tax treatment of incentive stock options. The bill changes the taxable event from the exercise of a stock option to the sale of stock, so that workers, especially in the hard-hit tech sector, are not saddled with both worthless stock and large tax bills.
Private Securities Litigation Reform
New Democrats were strong supporters of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act (PSLRA), which was enacted to address the serious problem of frivolous and abusive securities suits. This legislation was enacted by a bipartisan majority of both chambers, and strong Democratic support was key to the subsequent veto override.
New Democrats believe that government must aggressively leverage technology in order to make government more user friendly for citizens. New Democrats are committed to working with both the public and private sectors to expand the government's use of technology to enhance efficiency and accessibility. Finally, New Democrats believe that the government must be able to procure and refresh software and hardware in an efficient manner on a regular basis.
Rapid advances in technology have dramatically improved the quality of life for millions of Americans. With this promise comes new challenges. It is not enough for policymakers to simply apply existing law to new technologies and means of communication. New Democrats are focused on developing a creative, flexible policy framework that promotes investment and innovation while ensuring that the federal government does not "rush to regulate."
In order to secure America's continued leadership in technology and expand opportunities for innovation, investing in basic research and Research and Development (R&D) is crucial. By funding research and providing incentives to the private sector, the government can play a constructive role in promoting the next generation of technological breakthroughs.
New Democrats understand the potential of biotechnology as a way to treat disease and improve quality of life for million of Americans. New Democrats believe the federal government can promote advances in biotechnology by providing funding for basic research, ensuring the protection of intellectual property and investing in regulatory agencies such as the Patent and Trademark Office and the Federal Drug Administration.
Stem Cell Research
New Democrats recognize that promising stem cell research can lead to new treatments and cures for as many as 128 million Americans afflicted with life threatening and debilitating diseases. The New Democrat Coalition supports federal funding for stem cell research and urges the Bush Administration to withdraw its support for the proposed ban on funding for such research.
New Democrats want to meet our energy challenge with a progressive energy policy, one that embraces and invests in the technologies of tomorrow, spurs our people and our businesses to innovate, empowers consumers to make smart energy use decisions and modernizes our often outdated systems of regulations and infrastructure to fit the realities of the 21st Century. The choice is not between environmental protection and a strong economy. Indeed, a comprehensive and balanced energy plan is critically important to the strength of our economy.
The choice is between returning to the outdated policies of the past, or recognizing the new landscape of the future: that our country can and must invest in the energy technologies that can supply the world with sustainable energy and modernize our regulatory and infrastructure systems that govern the energy market. New Democrats believe the choice is clear, and we are committed to developing an energy policy for the 21st Century.
Digital Media and Piracy
New Democrats believe that copyright law should provide the incentive for copyright holders to create and to promote innovation in the delivery of content and applications to consumers. We also believe in the rights of consumers. New Democrats oppose broad government mandates on technology standards and call on industry to take the first step in identifying and developing technologies designed to combat piracy.
New Democrats are committed to fighting piracy, a significant and growing problem for content providers and software producers throughout the nation. New Democrats continue to call for additional resources to enable federal authorities to enforce our copyright laws and aggressively prosecute cyber and intellectual property crimes.
Restore Investor Confidence
New Democrats recognize that the foundation of our economy is built on
trust in the markets - without such trust the free flow of capital is
undermined and investment is reduced. Robust investment fuels innovation,
and in order for companies to have the resources they need to create new
technologies and applications, investors must know that financial
statements are full and accurate. New Democrats are committed to restoring
this confidence so that the American economy continues to be the most
innovative and dynamic in the world.
We live in a world where international borders are becoming increasingly porous to the flow of information and investment capital, and where the Internet is truly impervious to arbitrary boundaries. Ninety-eight percent of world trade occurs outside the United States. Growth and expansion of the U.S. economy depends on our engagement in the global economy and on attracting the best and brightest minds from around the World. New Democrats have been an essential and consistent voice and vote in support of expanding trade opportunities for U.S. goods and services. New Democrats argue that increased trade and strengthened economic partnerships are important tools to advance democracy, human rights, labor and environmental standards around the globe.
Trade Promotion Authority and the Trade Adjustment Act
New Democrats have consistently advocated a new formula for a consensus on trade that combines efforts to expand trade with new initiatives to ensure that all Americans can prosper in the global economy. Expanding access to markets abroad is a key to economic growth and opportunity at home and the United States should use its leadership position in the international community to promote democracy, free markets and human rights. Without question, engagement, not isolation, is the best method of influencing other nations' behavior.
New Democrats are committed to expanding the bipartisan consensus for trade, embracing economic engagement while enhancing Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) to address the legitimate concerns of those workers who are not fully sharing in the economic prosperity created by increased international trade.
New Democrats support progress on bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations that will increase the flow of U.S. goods and services to the international marketplace. New Democrats support progress on a number of fronts including agreements and negotiations with Singapore, Chile, Australia, the Free Trade Area of the Americas and a new round of World Trade Organization talks.
Open Trade and Travel with Cuba
The New Democrat Coalition supports efforts to end the Cuban trade embargo and to allow open travel between the two nations. U.S. policy toward Cuba remains locked in a cold war approach, while failing to look to the future of the U.S.-Cuban relationship. The Cuban embargo has failed to bring freedom and prosperity to the people of Cuba and is an outright contradiction of U.S. economic and security interests.
The United States is the world leader in e-commerce, digital trade and information technology. New Democrats support an internationally recognized framework for global e-commerce and digital trade that addresses issues of jurisdiction and sovereignty to promote the growth of global e-commerce.
New Democrats believe that passage of an Export Administration Act (EAA) is a matter of national security. Resources generated by American exports fund the next generation of research and development, heightening our security and ensuring that our nation remains the world leader in technology. Congress must strike a balance that not only effectively controls the export of sensitive items, but that has a rational approach to determining which products can, and should, be made available for export.
Enhance Homeland Security
New Democrats support strong homeland security, based on effective organization, a comprehensive national strategy and a partnership between public and private sectors. New Democrats believe that this strategy should be based on the effective use of new technologies and ideas by our defense and homeland security sectors, the quick integration of intelligence and threat information from the field and the dissemination of key data to the first responders who will be called upon to react.
Effective homeland security requires the integrated efforts of federal, state, and local governments in partnership with the private sector. Improvements are needed in all aspects of counterterrorism - from intelligence, preparation and prevention to response and recovery - and must be organized inside a coherent structure with a single comprehensive national strategy.
The President's proposal for a new Department of Homeland Security is a bold and courageous step that builds on legislation, H.R. 4660, introduced by Reps. Jane Harman (Calif.), Ellen Tauscher (Calif.), Mac Thornberry (Texas), and Jim Gibbons (Nev.). Passing legislation and implementing the change in structure will require Congressional and Administration leadership to overcome turf and bureaucratic interests.
New Democrats support a strong defense to win ongoing and future conflicts. This requires a capabilities-based approach, relying on transformational technologies and capabilities such as stealth, information-based warfare, uninhabited vehicles and precision-guided munitions.
New Democrats understand that increased spending on defense does not always mean better spending on defense. The present defense force structure, use of outdated technology, management structures, and bureaucracy are remnants from 20th century that need strategic modernization.
Active and reserve forces, comprised of highly competent and dedicated patriots, must be better integrated into a forward-looking defense. The size and use of the armed services must reflect defense needs and accurately reflect operational tempo and technological capabilities.
Technology Against Terrorism
Preventing future terrorist attacks will require better integration of information from diverse sources. Private sector technologies will play an important role in establishing the systems needed to secure the United States against future terrorist attacks. Modern information technology can integrate intelligence data sources and search for suspicious patterns and threats. "Smart borders," utilizing new detectors and smart cards, can speed legal trade while stopping terrorists from entering the country. New Democrats support the creation of new partnerships between the public and private sectors to promote innovations in security. By creating a single portal for companies to approach the government with homeland security ideas, we can facilitate the integration of technology into our common defense.
Networks that integrate information from a variety of sources will detect patterns of terrorist activity and permit that information to be acted upon. Interoperable communications systems will enable public safety agencies to communicate more effectively with one another. In order to ensure that the agencies of federal, state, and local government can connect the dots to protect our nation against terrorist threats, New Democrats support efforts to reorganize government databases and communications systems to streamline and eliminate barriers to communication. To prevent identity theft and prevent terrorists from unauthorized movement in the county, New Democrats support making drivers licenses more secure against improper issuance or counterfeit.
New Democrats understand that protecting our nation's critical IT infrastructure from cyberterrorists, both domestic and foreign, is critical to our national defense and economy. New Democrats believe that the United States government and private sector, which owns and operates 90 percent of the nation's computer networks, should work together to protect our nation's critical infrastructure.
New Democrats believe that the United States should invest in enhanced IT capabilities at public health agencies nationwide to improve communication in an emergency and enhance surveillance of disease outbreaks.