Democrats pledge support for US high-tech concerns

At the first U.S. presidential nominating convention since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and the Pentagon, technology...

A meeting at the US Democratic party's presidential nominating convention has called for increased spending on science and technology research, and the continued promotion of open trade policies.

Although technology issues have been eclipsed by national security concerns, the Democrats count California and Silicon Valley as strongholds and are keen to show their party's commitment to the sector.

The panel, made up of representatives from industry associations and companies, together with current and former members of the US government, heard that the future of the US economy depends on the continued expansion of high-tech industry.

Dave McKurty, president of the Electronics Industries Alliance and a former Democratic representative said both the Democratic and Republican parties have a vested interest in helping the industry grow.

John Kerry, the Democrats' presidential candidate, believes in a "holistic" approach to internet taxes that will allow Congress to hammer out a policy on taxes for goods sold online, Wyden said.

Kerry and the expected Democratic vice-presidential candidate, Senator John Edwards, have raised concerns on the campaign trail over offshoring practices that they believe have taken the jobs of US high-tech workers. But the panelists took a less strident view of offshoring and urged the delegates and industry executives not to let protectionist policies slow expansion of the technology industry.

"This is not about fighting it out with India to become the world's call center leader," said Steve Westly, California's state controller and a former executive of eBay. The high-tech industry is the future of California's economic growth and the engine behind the expansion of the worldwide economy, and the open trade policies of former President Bill Clinton's administration must continue, he said.

Almost 95% of future opportunities in the high-tech industry lie outside the US, McKurty said. The US must aggressively promote an open trade agenda while working to provide more money for job creation and education, he said.

Tom Krazit writes for IDG News Service

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