Tech issues went largely ignored when U.S. presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton laid out their economics plans in speeches this week.
In fact, Republican nominee Trump made zero mention of IT issues, save for his opposition to trade deals largely supported by the tech industry, in his speech Monday. Trump largely concentrated on cutting taxes and deregulating U.S. businesses.
Democratic nominee Clinton also opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, did mention broadband in passing, but most of her speech on Thursday was focused on jobs and consumer pocketbook issues.
Clinton called on the U.S. to achieve universal broadband deployment by 2020 in a section of her speech focused on rebuilding U.S. infrastructure.
"It’s astonishing to me how many places in America ... don’t have access to broadband," she said. "And that disadvantages kids who are asked to do homework using the internet. Five million of them live in homes without access to the internet."
Meanwhile, Trump talked about rejuvenating the U.S. coal and steel industries but made no mention of IT. Clinton is "the candidate of the past," he said. "Ours is the campaign of the future."
Trump's lack of a focus on tech issues has been a sore spot for the tech industry in recent months. Tech trade groups have called on Trump to outline a tech agenda without success.
The internet industry is responsible for about 3 million U.S. jobs, noted Noah Theran, a spokesman for trade group the Internet Association. "It is essential that candidates understand the importance of the internet to our economy and back it up with sound public policy," he added by email.
While Clinton's economic speech largely ignored tech issues, she did outline a tech-policy agenda back in June. Among other initiatives, she wants the U.S. to train 50,000 new computer science teachers over the next 10 years and to push green cards on foreign students earning advanced tech and science degrees from U.S. colleges.
Clinton's tech policy plan was generally well received in the tech industry. Her push for better science and technology education and broadband deployment are plans that the Software and Information Industry Association "strongly supports," the trade group said.
Trump has, on some occasions, talked about the need to improve U.S. cybersecurity.
Clinton's general approach to economic issues seems more in line with the tech industry, said Ed Black, president and CEO of the Computer and Communications Industry Association. Clinton and the tech industry "share a realistic view of the complicated interconnected world we live in, and we think, will often arrive at in parallel positions on a lot of things," he said.
Many people in the tech industry see Trump as a "destabilizing" force in the world economy, with the candidate talking about overhauling major international agreements, Black said. "The global economic and legal order has been ... pretty good for the tech industry," he said.
Clinton's call for expanded broadband deployment wins her points in the tech industry, as did her work when she was secretary of state to promote internet freedom worldwide, Black said.
While both candidates have questioned free trade deals, there's a "lack of nuance and gray areas when Trump talks," Black added.
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