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Monday, June 25th, 2018

Stimulus Bill Project Funds To Flow To Tech Firms

February 13, 2009 Written by 

From 2/13/09 WSJ...
High technology and diversified tech conglomerates that made efforts to shape the stimulus plan emerged as big winners in the draft bill expected to come up for a vote Friday.

General Electric Co., whose chief executive, Jeff Immelt, serves as a White House adviser, will likely benefit from a dozen provisions in the bill, from appliance rebates to water-treatment spending and wind-energy tax breaks. Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. stand to benefit from billions of dollars slated for technology infrastructure, environmental and educational projects aimed at improving U.S. competitiveness.

"We always work to have a seat at the table where important projects are being considered," said GE spokesman Peter O'Toole.

The bill sets aside $4.4 billion to upgrade the nation's electrical grid, an issue championed by Google CEO Eric Schmidt, GE and other tech companies.

Congress also set aside $19 billion for health information technology that would digitize health records and set privacy and data standards. As the bill was drafted, tech companies worked to beat back concerns among some lawmakers that digitizing patient records could compromise privacy, arguing that the effort would cut medical costs.

"We believe information technology can help create a connected health system that delivers predictive, preventive and personalized care," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer wrote to Congress Wednesday.

Wind and solar power companies lobbied to win a tax break to encourage investment in renewable fuel. But the nuclear-energy industry lost a $50 billion loan-guarantee program that had been included in the legislation until late in the negotiations.

Tech companies gained strong allies in environmentalists, who pushed for provisions including $8 billion for high-speed rail, $8.4 billion for public transit, $6 billion for clean drinking water programs and $5 billion for weatherization programs.

"Congress really got it right," said Erin Allweiss, a spokeswoman for the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental-advocacy group that lobbied for the provisions.

The National Science Foundation will receive $3 billion for research funding, a move cheered by many in the high tech and science communities, which have bemoaned a lack of research funding in recent years.

Intel Corp., the chip giant, said it benefits in several ways from the package. The Silicon Valley company, for example, has been one of the biggest computer-industry players pushing into the health-care arena, promoting new ways to use technology to help homebound patients and automate hospitals and doctors' offices. Security precautions and other issues need to be worked out to reach standards for electronic medical records, said Peter Cleveland, Intel's vice president of global policy, but the $19 billion in funding should definitely lead to efficiency improvements. "It's a win-win all the way around," he said.

Overall, many tech companies are indirect beneficiaries of the stimulus package as the government begins spending on a variety of new programs. PC makers, for example, could see modest revenue increases as government grants to update computer facilities in community colleges and other schools begin filtering out.

Cisco Systems Inc., which makes gear for computer networks, hailed provisions in the bill that target "areas that we play in like broadband and health care and smart grids for electrical uses," Cisco Chief Executive John Chambers said recently in an interview.

The bill allocates $7 billion to expand broadband access in areas with little or no Internet access, a potential boon for equipment manufacturers along with cable and phone companies. Broadband tax credits designed to encourage companies to build out their networks faster died this week, however, after arguments about how to structure the credits prompted lawmakers to simply toss the provision.

Read 3459 times Last modified on Monday, 30 April 2012 12:35
Gary Zander

Gary is President of Project One.

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