President Obama will kick off a highly-charged political year with his address to Congress and the country on the current State of the Union. For decades, this has been an opportunity for Presidents to lay out policy initiatives and bold ideas for the year ahead. Despite the current climate in Washington, this year should be no different. In recent years we’ve seen more and more nods to the tech community and its unique role in the rebirth of our economy, and this year should provide another opportunity for the President to reiterate and reinforce his policy agenda when it comes to tech business. Here are just a few areas we’d love the President to highlight for the coming year.
Curbing Patent Troll Abuses
The President used last year’s State of the Union address to continue his assault on what he has called the “extortionists” in the patent troll community. Now, with legislation poised to be taken up in the Senate after the passage of the Innovation Act in the House, the President would do well to embolden his allies in the Democrat-controlled body, asking for legislation that would curb these abuses to be taken up and passed swiftly. As we’ve discussed on a number of occasions, patent trolls are a clear and present danger to the American economy; they cost businesses, in most cases young and growing tech startups, billions of dollars in wasted capital each year. 2014 can be the year we begin to turn the tide, and with the help of the Bully Pulpit, the President can accelerate that process.
Comprehensive Immigration Reform
After a year of action in 2013, the tech community and so many others are waiting with baited breath to see what Speaker Boehner and the House GOP will do to advance the cause of rebuilding our broken immigration system. With the promise of immigration “principles” to be released by the speaker, the President can use the address as an overture to allies on the right that now is
the time for action in the House. All sectors of the economy will benefit from immigration reform, and for now we remain hopeful for movement this year. The right overture can hasten that process and we look forward to what the President has to say on the matter.
With last week’s decision from the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, the battle lines over keeping the internet free and open for innovation are being drawn. Direction from the President to Congressional allies and especially the Federal Communications Commission would go a long way towards ensuring the continued ability of young companies to create disruptive applications and products online -- and gain fair market access. Together with a broad coalition in support of net neutrality, an FCC appeal might not only be a reality, but a success.
Overall, the President has an opportunity
to set a 2014 agenda of bold ideas and new thinking. With the right direction, the President might successfully work with Congress and the regulatory apparatus on a course for prosperity and growth this year and beyond. We in the tech community are looking forward to continued involvement with new programs and ideas that help government work better for all of us.