Bill Clinton on Technology
President of the U.S., 1993-2001; Former Democratic Governor (AR)
Invest in infrastructure including social infrastructure
The progressives' plan calls for investing more money in programs designed to create jobs and raise incomes. Higher investments in education, job training, and special help for veterans and the long-term unemployed; and more spending for housing,
rental, and child-care programs for lower-income Americans.
We can act to strengthen both the economy and the government's role in creating a better future by cutting spending and raising revenue in a fair, effective way.
Source: Back to Work, by Bill Clinton, p. 80-82
, Nov 8, 2011
Speed up process for approving infrastructure projects
We clearly need much faster broadband connections; a smart electrical grid; more efficient ports and airports; and an upgrade of our old investments in roads, bridges, rails and water and sewage systems.
[We need to] speed up the process
for approving and completing infrastructure projects. President Obama has committed to streamline the process for large infrastructure projects, and I'm confident it can be done without compromising environmental or safety standards.
Source: Back to Work, by Bill Clinton, p.140-147
, Nov 8, 2011
More high-speed trains, at higher speeds
[We should] spend the rest of the rapid-rail money, but spend it where it will do the most good.
It would be best to prove the worth of high-speed rail with adequate investments in heavily populated areas where there is a lot of highway and airport
congestion. Our fastest train, Amtrak's Acela, which runs from Washington to New York to Boston and back, travels about 100 mph slower than the fast trains that connect Japan's most populous cities.
Source: Back to Work, by Bill Clinton, p.161-163
, Nov 8, 2011
1990s: Partner with automakers to develop high-mileage cars
Al Gore's landmark book, "Earth in the Balance" made a deep impression on me and was one of the reasons I asked him to be my running mate in 1992.
In 1993, my first year as president, we included as part of the Deficit Reduction Act a small carbon tax
that would have led to more conservation. We convinced the House to pass it, but it died in the Senate. After that, we pursued a partnership with the US automakers to develop a very high-mileage car, took steps to increase energy efficiency in the federal
government, which had the effect of taking several hundred thousand cars off the road, increased research, and negotiated the Kyoto Climate Change Treaty to howls that it would destroy the economy. Virtually the entire Senate voted for a resolution
opposing the treaty even before I could submit it for ratification. In my second term, I gave what I thought was a compelling speech about climate change, which elicited a giant yawn. All that changed after 9/11 and the Iraqi War.
Source: Giving, by Bill Clinton, p.154-155
, Sep 4, 2007
1996: Parents control kids' TV access with V-chip
In February 1996, I signed the Telecommunication Act, a sweeping overhaul of the laws affecting an industry that was already one-sixth of our economy. The act increased competition, innovation, and access to what
Al Gore had dubbed the "information superhighway."
We reached what I thought was a fair compromise, and in the end the bill was passed almost unanimously. It also contained a requirement that new television sets include the V-chip, which
I had first endorsed at the Gores' annual family conference, to allow parents to control their children's access to programs; by the end of the month, executives from most of the television networks would agree to have a rating system for their
programs in place by 1997. Even more important, the act mandated discounted Internet access rates for schools, libraries, and hospitals; the so-called E-rate would eventually save public entities about $2 billion a year.
Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p.699-700
, Jun 21, 2004
1995: Tax-free Internet policy spread from US to world
Clinton and Gore worked on a set of rules to govern e-commerce on the Internet--which, in 1995, barely existed. The methodology of the health care task force had been disastrous; they would do the opposite with e-commerce and see what happened.
The process would be transparent, rather than secret. It would be bipartisan.
They published the proposed e-commerce protocol on the Web, and asked for suggestions; the protocol went through 14 public revisions before it was approved, on
July 1, 1997. Most striking was the philosophy of the approach. It was firmly Libertarian; not just anti-censorship--but also opposed to the imposition of a sales tax on cyber-purchases, as a way to encourage the growth of e-commerce.
The Internet's duty-free zone, a no-tax policy that was adopted internationally after Clinton proposed it (and which has become more controversial as e-commerce continues to grow, unencumbered by the burdens imposed upon traditional business).
Source: The Natural, by Joe Klein, p.186-187
, Feb 11, 2003
Vision to transform from Industrial Age to Information Age
It can be argued that the reason Bill Clinton succeeded as well as he did in the substance of his presidency is that--intellectually, at least--he was quite the opposite of the slickster his enemies imagined: He arrived in
Washington with a coherent, sophisticated political vision, which he pursued rigorously, quite often in ways that were politically inexpedient in the short term. He had, by turns, alienated traditional liberals, conservatives, and moderates,
but his heresies were schematic. The apparent contradictions in Clinton's agenda--support for free trade (which should have pleased conservatives) and for universal health insurance which should have pleased liberals); support for welfare reform
(which appalled liberals) and for affirmative action (which appalled conservatives)--were all part of what he considered to be his larger mission: to manage the nation's transition from the Industrial Age to the Information Age.
Source: The Natural, by Joe Klein, p. 12
, Feb 11, 2003
Bridge the Digital Divide via access & training
Access to computers and the Internet is becoming increasingly important in American life, but there is a growing “digital divide” between those who have access to information technology and those who do not. To help make access to computers and the
Internet as universal as the telephone, the Administration is proposing a comprehensive initiative to bridge the digital divide and create new opportunity for all Americans. Their FY 2001 budget includes proposals to: broaden access to technologies such
as computers, the Internet, and high-speed networks; provide people with the skilled teachers and the training they need to master the information economy; and promote online content and applications that will help empower all Americans to use new
technologies to their fullest potential.
In December 1999, the President also announced the launch of the Digital Divide Network, an Internet-based information clearinghouse on public and private efforts to bring technology to underserved communities.
Source: WhiteHouse.gov web site
, Jun 1, 2000
$200M more for National Space Program
The President’s 1996 National Space Policy commits the nation to a strong, stable, and balanced space program. The FY 2001 budget request of $14 billion will enable NASA to continue to pursue the Clinton-Gore Administration’s priorities in human space
flight, earth sciences, advanced space transportation, aviation safety, & space science. Through the 21st Century Research Fund for America, the President adds $200 million over the next year to NASA’s space science program.
[Other science investments
- Global Partnerships in Science and Development, supporting the Large Hadron Collider.
- Developing Cleaner Energy to Reduce Greenhouse Emissions, via a $4 billion package of tax incentives to spur the purchase of energy efficient products
and the use of renewable energy.
- Mapping the Human Genome & Ensuring that the Human Genome Project Remains a Global Effort.
- Increasing Funding for Nanotechnology Research with a $227 million increase in the National Nanotechnology Initiative.
Source: WhiteHouse.gov web site
, Jun 1, 2000
New Protections for Privacy of Electronic Medical Records
The Administration released a new regulation to protect the privacy of electronic medical records. This rule would limit the use and release of private health information without consent; restrict the disclosure of protected health information to the
minimum amount of information necessary; establish new requirements for disclosure of information to researchers and others seeking access to health records; and establish new criminal sanctions for the improper use or disclosure of private information.
Source: WhiteHouse.gov web site
, May 1, 2000
Next generation Internet lets the world explore cyberspace
We should enable all the world's people to explore the far reaches of cyberspace. Think of this: The first time I made a State of the Union speech to you, only a handful of physicists used the World Wide Web--literally, just a handful of people. Now, in
schools, in libraries, homes, and businesses, millions and millions of Americans surf the Net every day. We must give parents the tools they need to help protect their children from inappropriate material on the Internet, but we also must make
sure that we protect the exploding global commercial potential of the Internet. We can do the kinds of things that we need to do and still protect our kids. For one thing, I ask Congress to step up support
for building the next generation Internet. It's getting kind of clogged, you know, and the next generation Internet will operate at speeds up to 1,000 times faster than today.
Source: Pres. Clinton's 1998 State of the Union message to Congress
, Jan 27, 1998
Fund $20B a year for transportation & communication network
PROMISE: To create a $20-billion-a-year fund transportation &roads, communications &information networks, and environmental technology.
STATUS: A 5-year $20 billion Defense Reinvestment initiative was announced in March 1993 that is centered on 4 major
areas of new investment:
Source: State of the Union, by T.Blood & B.Henderson, p.120
, Aug 1, 1996
- worker training & adjustment
- community reinvestment
- Dual-use technologies with both commercial & military applications
- new civilian technology investments that provide diversification opportunities.
Mission to Planet Earth plus unmanned probes
PROMISE: To increase environmental research through NASA's "Mission to Planet Earth."
Status: Funding for this program has increased approximately 30% since January 1993.
Promise: To continue to use unmanned probes and robots to explore other planets.
STATUS: Under President Clinton, NASA has developed a space robot, "Ranger," that can refuel and repair satellites. It costs about $100 million to build and launch a satellite, but it is useless if it breaks or runs out of fuel.
Ranger can be launched from the shuttle or from a rocket and fly around for a month fixing and fueling dying satellites. This type of technology can produce considerable savings.
Source: State of the Union, by T.Blood & B.Henderson, p.148-149
, Aug 1, 1996
Connect every library and classroom to the Internet
[Urban schools are] using technology not just to strengthen school performance, but to strengthen the community as a whole. They are, in effect, democratizing technology, making it more readily accessible for
children and parents alike. But we will have to do more. That’s why we are trying to hook up every classroom and library in the country to the Internet in the next four years. It’s already under way.
Source: Between Hope and History, by Bill Clinton, p. 39
, Jan 1, 1996
V-Chip lets parents self-screen TV
Parents across America have been saying there is too much violence and sex on television and clamoring for the government to protect their children. The broadcasters, in turn, say they have rights, too, and argue that government control would violate
their constitutionally protected freedom of expression.
The solution we arrived at-voluntary rating by broadcasters and a small piece of technology called the V-chip that allows parents to screen out objectionable programs-is a perfect example of
how Americans can work together to find common ground and solve difficult problems. Government did not force the solution, it enabled it. We passed a law providing for the installation of the V-chip, worked with industry to get them to support it,
asked them to do what they could do best-produce and rate programs-then left the decision-making to individual families. We did not take over the role of parents; we said the best programming director for a child is a responsible parent.
Source: Between Hope and History, by Bill Clinton, p.124-125
, Jan 1, 1996
Jump start economy by fast-track highway & loan spending
In early January 1992, Clinton released his 6-page "Plan for America's Future." It included 4 steps for the short run and a pledge of college loans and health insurance for every American. The first short-term step was a 10% middle-class tax cut.
The second step was a tax credit for families of up to $800 each for each child they had. Clinton also promised to "jump-start" the economy by accelerating "fast-track" spending on highways and by expanding home and small business loans.
Clinton taped 15- and 60-second television spots to air in New Hampshire. The ads told people to call a local phone number or visit their local libraries for a copy of the plan.
The first week the commercials ran, Clinton jumped 13 percentage points in Stan Greenberg's poll.
Source: The Agenda, by Bob Woodward, p. 31
, Jun 6, 1994
Chief information officer to digitize federal government.
Clinton adopted the manifesto, "A New Agenda for the New Decade":
The strong anti-government sentiments of the early 1990s have subsided, but most Americans still think government is too bureaucratic, too centralized, and too inefficient.
In Washington and around the country, a second round of “reinventing government” initiatives should be launched to transform public agencies into performance-based organizations focused on bottom-line results. Many public services can be delivered on a competitive basis among public and private entities with accountability for results. Public-private partnerships should become the rule, not the exception, in delivering services. Civic and voluntary groups, including faith-based organizations, should play a larger role in addressing America’s social problems.
When the federal government provides grants to states and localities to perform public services, it should give the broadest possible administrative flexibility while demanding and rewarding specific results.
Government information and services at every level should be thoroughly “digitized,” enabling citizens to conduct business with public agencies online.
Goals for 2010
Source: The Hyde Park Declaration 00-DLC8 on Aug 1, 2000
- Require public agencies to measure results and publish information on performance.
- Consolidate narrow federal-state grants into broad performance-based grants that offer greater flexibility in return for greater accountability for results.
- Make it possible for citizens to conduct all business with government online.
- Create a chief information officer to drive the digitization of the federal government.
- Click here for definitions & background information on Technology.
- Click here for VoteMatch responses by Bill Clinton.
- Click here for AmericansElect.org quiz by Bill Clinton.
Other past presidents on Technology:
Bill Clinton on other issues:
George W. Bush(R,2001-2009)
George Bush Sr.(R,1989-1993)
John F. Kennedy(D,1961-1963)
Harry S Truman(D,1945-1953)
Past Vice Presidents:
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Page last updated: Mar 21, 2021