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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."

By Cecilia Kang  |  January 28, 2009; 2:22 PM ET  | Category:  Cecilia Kang
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Where I do believe that technology infrastructure is a thing of dire necessity at this time I question putting funds into a system that does not back digital security with the same strength of effort. That concerns me. When you browse the latest digital security technology sources you get the feeling that the so much can be done here. I'm just a little concerned about that and like to think I'm not alone.

Posted by: ThomasWhitney | January 28, 2009 5:01 PM

Dean Garfield, president of the Information Technology Industry Council, said, is to "make sure the recovery package truly results in recovery. We have to put people back to work."

If you check his website itic org under the "immigration" tab, most of the page is devoted to displacing American workers in favor of NON-Immigrant temporary indentured H1B and L1 visa workers. No mention is made of facilitaing their path to citizenship. He makes one reference to helping foreigners who graduated from US universities get "permanent resident status" - but he does not ask that they be helped become full citizens.

Truly permanent full US citizens would want the same things we all want - a living wage, reasonable job security, a fair chance at a new job if the old one goes Chapter 11.

All the young H1Bs and L1s want is a few years of overseas adventure that looks good on their CVs when their visa expires.

Posted by: EirikThorvaldsson | January 30, 2009 12:49 AM

What Sam Palmisano is not telling you is that IBM is laying off hard working people and forcing them to train their off shore replacements. The majority of companies IBM serves are US based. Shouldn't IBM feel compelled to hire US workers to best serve their US customers and their country. Wouldn't keeping ALL US workers employeed speed the economic recovery Mr. Obama is talking about ? Why are we sending our jobs overseas when we have a willing work force in the US ? It is disheartening to see so many people who've worked hard for years told one day there job is now gone and they need to train their replacement. How does a country I pay taxes in allow that. Where is the protection that we keep hearing about so much. I wish all countries of the world could share the wealth and have high living standards. But it should not come at the sacrifice of an American worker.

Posted by: JohnnyBlue1 | January 30, 2009 8:22 PM

Here's my recovery plan. Penalize any US company that sends jobs overseas. Make them pay 4 years salary any time they lay off an American worker to allow them to retrain. Especially if they have a family that depends on them. Set a bar - the US must produce at least 50% of the products sold in this country. In 5 years it must be 75%. US companies must improve their quality - we want to sell the most reliabe products produced in the world. Use our taxes to improve our infrastructure - electric grid, roads, highways, railroads. Take back electric companies from private enterprise. They are not investing in the infrastrucre now because they want to maximize profit.

Posted by: JohnnyBlue1 | January 30, 2009 8:33 PM

Set new LAWS not recommendations for full disclosure in accouting rules. Why are we allowing Wall Street to cook the books. Furthermore Wall Street is using our money - pension funds of every day workers - firemen, policemen. Why are we even allowing them to rake off huge profits for money they did not earn with their own hands. The corporate structure in America funnels money from the hands of the people to the hands of the corporate titans.

Posted by: JohnnyBlue1 | January 30, 2009 8:38 PM

I think it does make a difference where, when and if we create jobs in this new era, of course. But it also makes a difference when planning out how these technology jobs will be executed how much of it is invested in progressing digital security issues.

Posted by: ThomasWhitney | February 4, 2009 1:47 PM

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