Newsline , Society

What would a Biden-Harris win mean for American tech and innovation?

Posted on Monday, August 24, 2020
by Outside Contributor

bidenSuppose it’s 2024, and Vice President Kamala Harris is running to succeed President Joe Biden. What would tech and US tech policy look like after four years of Biden-Harris?

The internet would be slower and less innovative

As Yogi Berra might say, it would be déjà vu all over again on net neutrality. Despite the past three years of internet freedom providing vibrant broadband performance and growth, net neutrality is likely to return under Biden-Harris. Why? Harris supported it in the past. And a Biden campaign advisor is none other than Timothy Wu, the author of net neutrality. Biden has largely stayed out of the net neutrality fight.

How do we know that the US internet would decline under net neutrality? During the pandemic, networks in countries without net neutrality performed better than networks in other countries. And economic research has shown that net neutrality regulations are more likely to hinder internet development and innovation than help it.

Fewer tech startups would create new products

Big Tech would significantly slow its purchasing of new innovations from startups. Why? Even though Harris is reputed to be close to Silicon Valley, Biden has spoken out against the size of Big Tech firms. Some of Biden’s tech advisors have been quite outspoken about their desire to not just stop mergers but also unwind past mergers, turning Big Tech into Little Tech.

How do we know that innovation would slow if the government cut off the possibility of startup tech firms selling to larger firms? As I said in an earlier blog post:

In the tech space, more and more innovations are coming from decentralized, small-scale innovators. This pattern was discovered in academic research about 20 years ago and still holds.

What is happening is that innovators develop ideas for products and demonstrate their potential value. In a few instances, such as in the case of Facebook, the innovator forms a business and succeeds. But more often than not, the innovators sell their company or at least their product to an enterprise that has a proven business model. This was probably the situation with Instagram, which had a great idea and a weak business model at best before selling to Facebook, which then turned the idea into a profitable business.

Social media would become less open

Social media companies would come under greater political scrutiny, perhaps even losing Section 230 protections. Why? Biden has said that Section 230 “immediately should be revoked.” Harris appears supportive of weakening Section 230 protections, but not of complete cancellation. She has supported the politicization of social media controls, asking Twitter to suspend President Donald Trump’s account.

How do we know this would make social media less open than it would be under a second Trump administration? The Trump administration is seeking to reinterpret Section 230 through administrative agency action, not through changing the statute itself. As my AEI colleague Daniel Lyons points out, Trump’s approach is unlikely to result in any changes. Biden-Harris appear more eager to change the statute itself, and Democrats take a more activist approach in attempting to control social media than Republicans do.

More money would be wasted on government broadband initiatives

Biden and Harris propose to spend $20 billion on rural broadband. But the Federal Communications Commission has already committed extensive funding for rural broadband. What’s the difference? Biden-Harris would emphasize funding to local governments for broadband development, while the Trump administration emphasizes private-sector investment.

This difference matters because government-provided broadband generally wastes taxpayer dollars. As I explained in another post:

The Obama administration had great failures with its broadband grant programs. Projects funded with US Department of Agriculture grants had high failure rates and provided only about 10 percent of the broadband promised. The US Department of Commerce grants were equally ineffective and laden with political cronyism.

And government enterprises struggle to be viable: A recent study found that only one in twenty municipal broadband programs had payback periods of less than 30 years even with government subsidies.

Tech companies could hire more highly skilled, non-US citizens

Immigration is one area where the tech sector would likely benefit from a Biden-Harris victory. Trump’s continued pause in issuing visas for highly skilled workers hurts Silicon Valley. Biden promises to work with Congress to expand such visas. And given Harris’ relationship with Silicon Valley, it seems likely that administrative action would also be taken to loosen visa restrictions. This should help tech companies be more successful, although it is unlikely to make up for the regulatory restrictions that a Biden administration would likely impose.

What’s the bottom line?

It seems that US tech and innovation would be less successful under Biden-Harris. So if in 2024 Vice President Harris were running for president, she might be talking about how America needs to catch up with other counties when it comes to building great tech companies.

Share this article:
Notify of
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
3 years ago

Far too charitable as to the state of the economy and technology after four years of Democrat rule. Innovation would largely be dead in this country. Massive increases in both taxation and regulations would drive most of American technology compamies off shore to other, more tax and regulatory friendly, countries. With that mass exodus, the American jobs in that sector would vanish here. China, Mexico and Viet Nam would be beneficiaries from a Biden / Harris administration.

The overall economy here after four years of socialist policies would have reduced the purchasing power of the average citizen by anywhere from 20 to 33 percent. Electricity, food and gasoline costs, due to the GND, will double or triple. Thus leaving less discretionary income for Americans to spend on technology. Think of it as a cascading series of negative events resulting from the imposition of the 110 page Democrat agenda. Which is nothing short of simply converting the United States from a capitalist society to one based on socialist principles. You don’t see a lot of people walking around with the latest and greatest cell phones, tablets and laptops in countries like Venezuela, Zimbabwe or other socialist Utopias. The reasons are obvious or at least they should be.

3 years ago

As the article and PaulE states it’s Capitalism that brings on innovation not control by over zealous power hungry Democrat politicians. Besides, I have no faith in power hungry attorney politicians who want to over regulate to exert control over everything they see. Why do I personally endorse President Trump, because as a business developer he understands not only how to make a business successful but that less government regulations and involvement encourages overall growth. Big tech recognizes that a President Trump re-election is vital to their growth and success!!!

An older blonde women laughing in the kitchen with a grey haired man.
AMAC’s Medicare Advisory Service
The knowledge, guidance, and choices of coverage you’re looking for. The exceptional service you deserve.
The AMAC App on 3 different iPhone
Download the AMAC App
The AMAC App is the place to go for insightful news wherever you are and whenever you want.
Joe Biden, President of USA, during press conference; Title IX
National Cemetery Flag. American flag on a grave at the National Cemetery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, placed there for Memorial Day.

Stay informed! Subscribe to our Daily Newsletter.

"*" indicates required fields

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x

Subscribe to AMAC Daily News and Games