Obama Assures Tech Titans on Stimulus Plan Approval
As President Obama works to get a stimulus plan approved by Congress this week, he offered encouraging words to a gathering in agreement on his push: Corporate America.
"I'm confident we're going to get it passed," Obama said in the meeting in which Google CEO Eric Schmidt and IBM Chairman Samuel Palmisano attended.
For high-tech titans in the room, Obama's plan to pour tens of billions of dollars into improving high-speed Internet access, upgrading healthcare information technology and improving energy grids means more contracts, more revenue and more jobs created.
"But even as this plan puts Americans back to work today, it will also make those critical investments in alternative energy and safer roads, better health care and modern schools that will lay the foundation for long-term growth and prosperity," Obama said.
In the meeting, IBM's Palmisano illustrated the interconnectedness of high-tech investments, where broadband deployment is part of a bigger ecosystem of that could also include improvements in energy grids and medical care.
"There is no reason to undertake projects simply for the sake of activity. Rather than simply stimulate, let's seize this opportunity to transform our country's infrastructure and economy... to create more and better jobs... and to develop new and more valuable skills," Palmisano said.
In an editorial in the Wall Street Journal earlier this month, Palmisano pushed for stimulus funds of $10 billion per year on "smart grid investment" that would make the grid more efficient and run by better technology.
He said $10 billion in stimulus funds for healthcare information technology would make healthcare records electronic and integrated across systems so a patient could communicate online with a doctor, a doctor with a pharmacy and a pharmacy with the patient's insurance company. None of this could be accommplished without broadband, or high-speed Internet, which isn't available in some rural and low-income urban areas.
The corporate leaders in the room represented a wide array of industries. They included Steve Appleton, CEO of Micron Technology; John Bryson, CEO of Edison International; David Cote, CEO of Honeywell; Debra Lee, CEO of BET Holdings; Wendell Weeks, CEO of Corning; and Ron Williams, CEO of Aetna.
Dean Garfield, president of the Information Technology Industry Council, was at the briefing after Obama's meeting with business executives. He said he felt confident that Obama is "staying true to his commitment to invest in the immediate term as well as the long-term health of this country."
The trade and lobbying group has been pushing for the use of information technology to reform the healthcare system and energy grids. The next step, Garfield said, is to "make sure the recovery package truly results in recovery. We have to put people back to work."
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