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Obama's Address Filled With Techie Promises

Obama's Not-State of the Union Address Filled With Techy Promises
Last night, President Barack Obama took to the Capitol to shed some light on the massive, $800 billion stimulus bill he just signed into law. As you might expect, his not-quite-State-of-the-Union address dealt in part with technology and science, which the president believes are essential to restoring the United States' economy and securing our place in the global marketplace.

We know that some of you don't have the time to read through the hundreds of pages in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or even to sit through the hour-long speech, so we've done the heavy lifting for you and broken down how your tax dollars are going to be spent on technological advancement.
  • $7 billion for mass transit, including $750 million for high-speed trains
  • $7.2 billion for improving broadband infrastructure and penetration
  • $650 million for the transition to DTV
  • $2 billion to improve IT services for the health care industry, focusing on a shift to electronic medical records
  • $1 billion for NASA programs and research
  • $3 billion for the National Science Foundation
  • $2 billion for research at the Department of Energy
  • $220 million for research and grants at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
  • $2 billion for the development and manufacturing of advanced battery technology, particularly for vehicles
  • $15 billion a year for clean or renewable power research, including wind and solar power, biofuels, clean coal technology, and increasing the fuel-efficiency of cars and trucks

Clearly, the stimulus bill represents a huge public investment in technological research and development. The money is geared at not only improving U.S. standing in the global science community, but also at jump starting new industries, saving energy dollars, and weaning us off fossil fuels and foreign oil. While it's clearly too early to tell whether or not these investments will have the intended effect, it's still comforting to see science and technology return to the forefront of domestic policy.

As is often the case with these sorts of things, delving into the finer points of the policy could easily fill a book, so we'll have to keep it short. That being said, one resource not mentioned in the speech was the Recovery.gov Web site. Recovery.gov was created to let the American public track how every dollar of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is spent. While currently there is very little information available at the site, as the money is doled out, data will be made available. The administration has even promised to make the data available in an easily exportable format, such as XML or RSS, so that folks can take the data to perform their own analyses and create mashups. As far as we know, this is a first for any government agency.

Not all of the technology on display yesterday was hidden in a bill or contained in a speech, however. Many members of Congress took to Twitter (and, in at least one case, the video streaming site Qik) to share their take on the stimulus package and President Obama's address. While politicians' presence on Twitter is nothing new, the number in the audience tapping away on their BlackBerrys was truly surprising. CNN counted at least ten actively tweeting congressmen. For the record, that number didn't include the biggest-name Republican on the micro-blogging service: John McCain. [From: Gearlog and CNN]

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Tags: american recovery and reinvestment act, AmericanRecoveryAndReinvestmentAct, barack obama, BarackObama, economic stimulus, EconomicStimulus, economy, government, obama, recovery.gov, research, science, stimulus, stimulus package, StimulusPackage

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