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 Home > News & Policies > August 2002

The President's Economic Forum

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 13, 2002

Vice President's Remarks at Economic Forum Technology & Innovation Session

     Fact sheet In Focus: President's Economic Forum
Vice President Dick Cheney listens as panelists at the Technology and Innovation panel at the President's Economic Forum share their concerns about economic issues at Baylor University in Waco, Texas on Tuesday August 13, 2002. White House photo by David Bohrer.

TIME: 10:05 a.m.

(Vice President Cheney enters forum.)

MR. ABRAHAM: It is my great pleasure to introduce the vice president of the United States, Mr. Cheney.

VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: Hello, Spence. I'm here primarily to listen, so I don't plan to make a speech, and maybe if I can sort of slide in and pick up in the middle of the proceedings and listen as you go about your business will be most useful. Politicians too often talk too much.

MR. ABRAHAM: Mr. Vice President, welcome. I know that one of the topics that has been of interest in your office is the role of innovation and technology. I was going to ask Chancellor Fox just to kind of kick off this discussion, but not by any means limited to that topic, to get us started.

MS. FOX: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

Mr. Vice President, we have been talking about the importance of technology has in driving the economy, and of course how we can best make a (inaudible) flourish that would encourage that technology. We believe that that involves research investment. It also involves investment in education, particularly in math and science education, those who would conduct research and those that would teach in the K-12 area. (Inaudible) We believe that will be expressed in many technological innovations, in government, in education, in the spectrum in which broad band infrastructure of the company makes it accessible and affordable. (Inaudible) We think that emphasis should be placed on accessible and affordable coupled with a strong commitment to invest in the future of our students is expressed potentially through this in a math and science partnership. We think that working out partnerships for both technology transfer as well as for the education of our students will foster exactly the climate we need for this technology to flourish.

MR. ABRAHAM: The floor is open.

MR. RUIZ: Comments on education. We strongly believe that economic growth is driven from innovation and that innovation at its root has great people and great people in all walks of life and training. Some of the great people going forward, of course, is our millions of children who live in places like East Houston, East Austin, people who have not had the opportunity, the access to quality education, and I think one of the things that would be a foundation for technology and innovation going forward will be the emphasis on these millions of children who are great Americans and great citizens, great residents of this country, that all they are looking for is not a handout or to be treated like victims but an opportunity to access quality education. So I would strongly encourage that the administration revisit an old issue. So I think it is important that people who are not as economically (inaudible) feel like they have an opportunity to access this quality education.

The second point I would make is we must continue to provide an environment where free and fair economy can occur. I think within the boundaries of this country as well as outside the boundaries of this country, we have to nurture this wonderful system we have created in this country for free and fair economy has led to tremendous advances in technology that has helped make life better. Outside of this country we need to encourage the export administration act to be done in such a way that it unhinders the ability of businesses such as high tech to be able to compete globally without the unnecessary bureaucracy of some unnecessary rules that perhaps are outdated and need to be revisited. We think that the work in this area has been very positive and should provide a strong foundation to improve on that going forward. Thank you.

MR. BALSAROTTI: Mr. Secretary, Mr. Vice President, thank you very much for this opportunity for a small business owner to be able to participate in this. My company, Software to Go, only employs four people. We don't create any technology, but we certainly have to explain it. We have to sell it, install it, and then service it when something goes wrong. What we've seen from the president's stimulus package that has really helped us is the increase in the accelerated depreciation. It may not sound like much. I think it went from 20,000 to 24,000. However, I had an architecture firm a block away from me that they are a good customer, we had talked to them many times about what were they going to do this year, replace the server, replace the work stations, put a $10,000 plotter, color plotter that they needed. When this change in the tax code came, I got a call that said, "Let's do it all. We can take advantage of the new tax code. Let's get it all. Let's get our firm back up to the technology that we need." It resulted in about a $32,000 order for me which is a very big order for my business, helped my business, and it helped them as well.

MR. ABRAHAM: Yes. Nancy.

MS. BACON: I'd like to pick up on the comment Hector had. We're a small company that does work in energy technology and information technology. The point that Hector made is about the people around the world. There are three billion people in the world that live on less than $2 a day. Two billion of them have no electricity whatsoever. We'd like to use some of our products, which I happened to bring. These are our solar cells. They can be used and convert sunlight directly into energy. I am particularly interested in how we can (inaudible) If you have energy, you can have lights, you can have pumping for clean water, you can have pumping for irrigation. The list goes on and on. I'd like to have the administration think about using U.S. high technology in some of their programs. Particularly President Bush has the $5 billion millennium challenge, and this was put together in order to alleviate poverty, and part of the things that we recognized was that people that are living in poverty are not terrorists, but if you are hopeless and you are in despair, you are very much more susceptible to people who might be terrorists. And I think there can be something that we can do good for the world, and being peaceful, we can foster these new energy technologies which today global cost effective away from the grid, and it will be very good for economic growth. Thank you.

MR. ABRAHAM: Thank you.

MS. ALLEN: I'm Cindy Allen. I'm from Texas Instruments, Incorporated, in Dallas, and I manage a warehouse and factory. We've got 800 people, both hourly and salaried professionals, and my experience is primarily manufacturing from 20 years that I've been in the business. I knew Dr. Ruiz in your earlier career.

The thing that concerns me most and really most reflective of where our industry is today in manufacturing is the concern that we have to stay competitive. If we don't stay competitive on a worldwide scale, then we won't have manufacturing business in this country, and that provides jobs, and so my focus is how do we maintain competitiveness so we can stay in the industry. (Inaudible) So how do we maintain our productivity as compared to them? I've served on a Semitech board, and we've visited many factories over the world. What I've found is that they are focused on winning. They also very well trained, very skilled at what they do. So one thing that we can do is education, math and science. We need to make sure in this country that we have adequate focus on engineering, math and science as we get the right resources not only in the states, but also if from other countries that we can utilize in our industry because the knowledge is one thing that drives us to be competitive. The other is information. Information is power, and connectivity of information leads to additional power. So how do we continue down the path that we're going now in terms of wireless connectivity, information sharing and using that data so that we can have information at our fingertips to keep us competitive? So I appreciate what you've done in terms of the trade open access to markets. Countries like China, we need to make sure that we penetrate that market to create jobs for the states.


MR. CLOUGH: (Inaudible) Innovation drives our economy. I'd like to comment on university research because it has been a source of innovative ideas, particularly in the 90s partly because of the (inaudible) and the very positive act on establishing (inaudible) from research funding university. And then of forcing encouraging universities to partner with private companies to innovate and develop new companies. In the year 2000 there were 11,000 (inaudible)and 454 start-up companies that came out of the university research primarily sponsored by federal funding. Obviously start-up companies have throwed down because the venture capital and much more difficult for these companies to find this funding. The good news is the Bush administration and Congress has supported R and D. We have the largest R and D budget overall in the nation's history this past year. So the good news is there is lots of jobs here. We run one of the most (inaudible) We have more people lined up to get in our incubator than ever before. But we are having a hard time finding (inaudible) and if I would encourage some notion that we need to think about in the future, get more creative in public and private partnership, to create angel funds, to get these ideas out of the incubator where they tend to be stuck today because we don't have enough (inaudible) because the ideas are there and they will help drive the economy in the future.

MS. AERNI: Thank you, Mr. Vice President and Mr. Secretary. I have a small communications company in the midwest. To be exact, and first of all, I'd like to thank the administration for the moratorium that is in effect on the tax issue. I think that's very critical. When we talk about competition, you have to talk about (inaudible), and I know that the president and his (inaudible) has a great concern that broad band be available to all rural and disadvantaged people. I can tell you right now that we have some problems with our communications. If you look at your phone bill -- look at your phone bill tonight -- you will see like my phone bill, that 60 percent of that goes to access charges, subscriber line charges, university services, state university services, and that's a real impediment to bring broad band not only to rural communities, but also to the disadvantaged. When I have to pay more in lawyer fees and insurance fees, interconnect agreements to get into community to bring broad band, there is something wrong with that. When I have to pay the same price to bring broad band, which is not rocket science, to a community of 321 that you have to pay in Denver, Colorado, there is something wrong with that.

MR. ABRAHAM: Thank you.

MR. CAMPBELL: Thank you, Mr. Secretary, Mr. Vice President. My name is Don Campbell. I'm president and CEO of Centech Communications, primarily telecommunication support. I'd like to follow up on one comment made by Linda, specifically relative to broad band communications. I think one of the big issues that we're concerned with as a professional service firm is what we perceive as an absence of competition in that arena. As a result of that, a lot of firms that are the larger firms aren't spending any large amounts of capital dollars which really means it doesn't drive everything else is dead. If they are not spending money on equipment to build out the network, people aren't manufacturing any to do that. (Inaudible) We as a professional service firm aren't providing any engineering support. So clearly the competition that Linda talks about is real important in the broad band area.

I think the last -- other comment I'd like to make is that it seems to me that as we begin to look at the whole concept of broad band in the so-called ibicutous broad band support, we also have to make sure that we have the modalities in place in terms of software packages that is referred to as (inaudible) provide service providers so that people can begin using information more effectively, and I think that's one of the big issues with our economy is that a lot of us have computers, a lot of us has some access, but there is no growth.

I just close by saying I think the two issues that I'd like to bring up is really more competition in the broad band area and support in terms of these ASP providers.

MR. ABRAHAM: Mr. Vice President, I know that you've got two more sessions to get to, so without getting a cue here that maybe this should be our last comment before you leave, I'm going to (inaudible)

MS. GORNICK: Thank you very much for being here and giving me the chance to speak. I have a little company in Lexington, Kentucky. We are in the consumer electronics industry and we manufacture stereo loud speakers, so if you were in an audio file, you may find us and actually make a buy here. You get two for that price.

I am very proud of the fact that we started this company with money that we borrowed from our parents and actually lost money for several years because we were undercapitalized, and I'm a person that takes a lot of pride in my self-reliance in my ability to have the dignity of making -- being captain of my own ship, so to speak. I've heard a lot of comments from people here today, and most of you occupy a rather eptherial world that I am not a part of. I am a much more ordinary citizen. One thing I do want to say is that as all of you here are speaking and talking about large sums of money that our government is spending, whether it be well intended or for good purposes or not, it's money that is not in the economy that is left for small people like myself. I can't have a big lobbyist. I can't afford lawyers and accountants. The confusion to me is about how one accesses federal money, which is of no interest to me, by the way. I again take a lot of pride in my self-reliance, but I know -- I want to say to all of you that that is money that is not available then to folks like myself who are willing to take those risks. So in my view government spending has subtracted that much. We don't know what opportunity costs we have lost when we take involuntary transfers of money out of the economy and decide from some high on place about where is the best place to spend it. So I have a different point of view than a lot of you here. The more money of mine that you can leave with me, I promise you, I will do a very good job creating jobs for people in this country. So my message to you is whatever you can leave with me is a good thing.

VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: I will be happy to take that message right to the top. I want to thank all of you for your willingness to spend some time with us. We'll have the opportunity when the individual sessions are finished to get everybody again together with the president and spend some time in sort of an overview, but it means a lot to us to have folks like you that are out there in the every day world and deal with these kind of problems and have the advantage of your thinking. It is easy to sit in Washington and get a disoriented picture of what goes on as opposed to getting out here periodically and get out and talk to folks who are day in and day out where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. We appreciate that. We'll see you in a few minutes.

(Forum continued.)