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Obama, Romney outline policies toward tech startups

In response to a query from a New York City-based tech group, the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates outline how their respective policies will benefit tech innovators and entrepreneurs.

The Oval Office.

With the U.S. presidential election drawing nearer, a New York-based tech group sent both President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney a letter asking how his policies would benefit tech startups, and both candidates have provided outlines in response.

Among other things, Romney mentions raising visa caps for highly skilled foreign workers; lowering the corporate tax rate to 25 percent and strengthening the R&D tax credit; and requiring that all major regulations receive congressional approval.

President Obama mentions having created the position of U.S. Chief Technology Officer and pursuing open data initiatives (an unlocking of data that can "fuel new products, companies, and industries," he says -- U.S. CTO Todd Park recently addressed the Commonwealth Club of California about this initiative). Obama also notes the recent crowdfunding law and patent reform.

Here's the full text from both letters, as published by the tech group that queried the candidates, NY Tech Meetup.

From Mitt Romney:

Dear Andrew [Rasiej, NY Tech Meetup's chairman of the board],

Thank you to you and your members for your interest in my policies for promoting technological innovation and business start-ups. While the private sector is far more effective at pursuing and applying innovation than government could ever be, I do believe that there are key areas in which government policy must strengthen the ability of the private sector to innovate effectively.

Over the course of my campaign, I have laid out a detailed economic plan that seeks to strengthen the American economy by empowering entrepreneurs and workers and rewarding innovation. This plan emphasizes critical structural adjustments to promote growth rather than short-term fixes.

Human Capital. We must reform America's legal immigration system to attract and retain the best and the brightest, and equip more Americans with the skills to succeed. I will raise visa caps for highly skilled foreign workers, offer permanent residence to foreign students graduating with advanced degrees in relevant fields, and restructure government retraining programs to empower individual workers and welcome private sector participation.

Taxes. We must pursue fundamental tax reform that simplifies the tax code, broadens the tax base, and lowers tax rates. I will lower the corporate tax rate to 25 percent, strengthen and make permanent the R&D tax credit, and transition to a territorial tax system. I will cut individual income tax rates across the board, and maintain today's low tax rates on investment. And I will ensure that these changes are made permanent so that investors and entrepreneurs are not confronted with a constantly shifting set of rules.

Regulation. We must reduce the power of unaccountable regulators by requiring that all major regulations receive congressional approval and by imposing a regulatory cap that prevents the addition of new regulatory costs. In a Romney Administration. agencies will have to limit the costs they are imposing on society and recognize that their job is to streamline and reduce burdens, not to add new ones.

Trade. We must open new markets for American businesses and workers. I will create a Reagan Economic Zone encompassing nations committed to the principles of free enterprise. At the same time I will confront nations like China that steal intellectual property from American innovators while closing American access to their markets.

Education. America's K-12 education system lags behind other developed nations, and while our higher education system remains the envy of the world its costs are spiraling out ofcontrol. We must pursue genuine education reform that puts the interests of parents and students ahead of special interests and provides a chance for every child. I will take the unprecedented step of tying federal funds directly to dramatic reforms that expand parental choice, invest in innovation, and reward teachers for their results instead of their tenure. I will also ensure that students have diverse and affordable options for higher education to give them the skills they need to succeed after graduation.

Basic Research. President Obama's misguided attempts to play the role of venture capitalist, pick winners and losers, and spend tens ofbillions of dollars on politically-prioritized investments have been a disaster for the American taxpayer. Yet at the same time, we must never forget that the United States has moved forward in astonishing ways thanks to national investment in basic research and advanced technology. As president. I will focus government resources on research programs that advance the development of knowledge, and on technologies with widespread application and potential to serve as the foundation for private sector innovation and commercialization.

Many of these policies may seem like common sense, yet they are ones that our nation is failing to pursue today and ones that our President has put on the back burner while trying his own hand at playing venture capitalist and focusing on government-led growth. The results are plain to see in a failed economic recovery that continues to produce extraordinarily disappointing growth and job creation As president, I will emphasize policies that once again make America the best place in the world to make a discovery, start a business, hire a worker, or find a job.

Mitt Romney

From Barack Obama:

Dear Members of NY Tech Meetup:

Thank you for carrying forward the entrepreneurial spirit that makes us a nation of doers, dreamers and risk takers. You understand that innovation and job creation occur when we make smart investments in infrastructure and technology and build an environment that encourages entrepreneurs to change the way we live and work.

Together we've used that bedrock American belief to recover and rebuild from the worst economic crisis in a generation. Today, entrepreneurship is at record levels and the number of business startups is up almost 10 percent since my first year in office. And this past Friday, we learned the unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level since I took office. As inventors, makers and thinkers you've helped get us here, believing that if anyone has a solid plan and is willing to work hard and play by the rules, we can turn any idea into something.

I believe it, too. That's why I've been laying the foundation for an economy built to last through investments in infrastructure and technology. We're expanding broadband networks to connect businesses large and small with markets around the World. The health care law invests in our health IT infrastructure, improving the delivery and management of care. Wall Street reform put a consumer protection cop on the beat, using technology to help consumers understand their rights when buying a home or using a credit card.

Across your government, we've used technology to bridge the offline and online divide to empower citizens and build a more participatory democracy. On my first day in office I created the position of U.S. Chief Technology Officer so we can pursue new open data initiatives to unleash unprecedented volumes of government data related to energy, education, international development, public safety and other areas. We're unlocking our resources to fuel new products, companies and industries and connect the next generation of entrepreneurs to freely available government data, while rigorously protecting and respecting privacy rights. And we recently announced the first class of "Presidential Innovation Fellows," talented private sector innovators who will spend six months in Washington partnering up with the govemment's top innovators to meet straightforward goals: improve the lives of the American people, save taxpayer dollars and fuel job creation across the country.

This past April, I also signed a law to help high-growth entrepreneurs and small businesses harness "crowdfunding" to raise capital consistent with investor protections and make it easier for young, high- growth firms to go public. I also launched the Startup America Partnership to improve the environment for high-growth entrepreneurship across the country. I encourage you to join, as we're focusing on unlocking access to capital to fuel startup growth, connecting mentors and education to entrepreneurs, accelerating innovation from "lab to market" for breakthrough technologies and unleashing market opportunities in industries like health care, clean energy and education.

I signed patent reform into law to help American entrepreneurs bring inventions to market sooner, leading to new businesses, jobs and industries. But that also depends on a regulatory system that supports our homegrown innovations. That's why I'll continue to stand by you to protect the openness of the Intemet while still enforcing intellectual property rights.

But investments in human capital remain our strongest economic asset. We have a start-up visa program that's allowing foreign entrepreneurs to establish businesses in America and create American jobs. And I have set concrete goals to create an economy built to last, including recruiting 100,000 math and science teachers over the next 10 years and training 2 million workers at connnunity colleges for jobs in fields like health care, advanced manufacturing clean energy and information technology.

As a nation. we can't simply cut our way to prosperity or fall back to the top-down, trickle-down economics that benefits the few, but guts investments in our country's future that grow our economy -- and your startups. But that's the choice in this election between two fundamentally different paths for our country, between moving forward and falling back.

As your president, I will continue to stand by you because if we combine our creativity. our innovation and our optimism, we can achieve anything. And the reason I've never been more optimistic about the future is because of all of you. You'll be the next entrepreneur to turn a big idea into something -- a new invention or an entire new industry. That's the promise of America; that's what this country is all about.

That is the legacy of Edison and Bell. That is the story of Google and Twitter. That is what landed NASA's Curiosity on Mars, reminding us that our preeminence -- not just in space. but here on Earth -- depends on investing wisely in the innovation, technology, and basic research that has always made the United States the envy of the world.

So keep doing and dreaming and moving our country forward.

Barack Obama