Better Broadband Better Lives

Obama Alludes To Broadband Spending Increase, More Oversight

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WASHINGTON, December 10, 2009 – President Barack Obama said his administration is proposing additional funding, outside of the stimulus money Congress allocated in January, to be directed toward modernizing the country’s communications networks. He also said more workers will be tasked with making sure the funding that has been provided, such as to the government broadband stimulus programs, is used as efficiently as possible.

“[W]e’re proposing a boost in investment in the nation’s infrastructure beyond what was included in the Recovery Act, to continue modernizing our transportation and communications networks. These are needed public works that engage private sector companies, spurring hiring across the country,” said the president Tuesday in an address he gave at the Brookings Institution.

“Already, more than 10,000 of these projects have been funded through the Recovery Act. And by design, Recovery Act work on roads, bridges, water systems, Superfund sites, broadband networks, and clean energy projects will all be ramping up in the months ahead. It was planned this way for two reasons: so the impact would be felt over a two year period; and, more importantly, because we wanted to do this right,” said Obama.

The president continued that “the potential for abuse in a program of this magnitude, while operating at such a fast pace, was enormous. So I asked Vice President Biden and others to make sure – to the extent humanly possible – that the investments were sound, the projects worthy, and the execution efficient. What this means is that we’re going to see even more work – and workers – on Recovery projects in the next six months than we saw in the last six months.”

On of these projects is the $7.2 billion the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Agriculture Department’s Rural Utilities Service have been charged with administering in grants that are meant to expand broadband deployment and adoption. The agencies have delayed announcing the names of the first grant recipients and have acknowledged numerous challenges they faced in trying to achieve the task they were charged with. The agencies planned to complete the first round of funding by the end of 2009, but due to delays, they now plan to so by February 2010.

Last week Biden said that within the next month billions will be given to broadband and high-speed rail investments, which means the grants should be announced soon.

“And by design, the items in the act which have the biggest impact are yet to come. Within the next two weeks to a month, another roughly $13 billion is going to be announced rolling out in terms of both investments in broadband and high-speed rail, and competitive education and infrastructure,” he said at the opening session of the White House Jobs and Economic Growth Forum.

Obama said Tuesday his administration is also proposing a series of steps to help small businesses grow and hire new staff. “These are also companies that drive innovation, producing thirteen times more patents per employee than large companies,” he said.

“Over the past fifteen years, small businesses have created roughly 65 percent of all new jobs in America,” the president added. The administration is “proposing a complete elimination of capital gains taxes on small business investment along with an extension of write-offs to encourage small businesses to expand in the coming year,” said Obama.

The administration is also proposing to waive fees and increase the guarantees for Small Business Administration -backed loans, he said. Obama added that he is proposing expanding select stimulus initiatives to promote energy efficiency and clean energy jobs.

“Job creation will ultimately depend on the real job creators: businesses across America. But government can help lay the groundwork on which the private sector can better generate jobs, growth, and innovation. After all, small business tax relief is not a substitute for the ingenuity and industriousness of our entrepreneurs … And while modernizing the physical and virtual networks that connect us will create private-sector jobs, they’ll do so while making it possible for companies to more easily and effectively move their products across this country and around the world,” he said.

Winter covered technology policy issues for five-and-a-half years as a reporter for the National Journal Group. She has worked for USA Today, the Washington Times, the Magazine Group, the State Department’s International Visitor’s Program, and the Council on Hemispheric Affairs. She also taught English at a university in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.


  1. I never cease to be amazed. Why is Barack Obama trying to institute a bail out tax on companies that didn’t receive bail out money? These companies should have been allowed to fail. Why should companies that took no money have to pay the price for GM and Chrysler? This is terrible policy.

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