Press Releases

In the absence of attention to critical New Economy issues, the New Democrat Coalition today releases “e-genda 2003,” its fifth comprehensive technology policy agenda. The New Democrat Coalition is committed to continuing to lead the way in promoting policies to grow and expand the New Economy and to ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to succeed in it.

"We need a strategy that ensures America leads in the New Economy and that promotes job growth in this critical sector," said Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), NDC co-chair. "To do so, we have to encourage investment in new companies and new technologies. Our e-genda lays out a plan for doing just that."

Throughout the late 1990s, America experienced unprecedented growth and prosperity largely brought about by technology and the New Economy. But in 2002, for the first time since 1995, the number of high-tech jobs – some of the best-paid jobs in our country – decreased. In fact, since President Bush took office, high-tech jobs have decreased by almost 8 percent. Under the Bush Administration, New Economy companies not only are slow to hire workers, they are scaling back investment and R&D at an alarming pace. From 1993 to 2000, venture investment grew by 59 percent – creating jobs and new companies and making our nation the leader in the New Economy. Since 2001, there has been a 55 percent decline in venture investment – hurting our economy today but perhaps even worse, seriously jeopardizing it for the future.

“New Democrats have been advocating for meaningful growth and investment in the New Economy long before today's release, but right now, it’s more critical than ever. Without leadership on the part of the president or Congress, we won’t see a real reversal in the slide in the New Economy,” said NDC Communications Coordinator Rep. Darlene Hooley (D-Ore.). “With our e-genda, we’re taking the first steps to improve the situation.”

“The New Democrat Coalition’s e-genda provides fresh ideas and practical policies that can reboot America’s technology sector and recharge our nation’s economic engine,” said NDC co-chair Rep. Jim Davis (D-Fla.).

One of the items contained in the e-genda released today, is the New Democrat Coalition’s endorsement of the permanent moratorium on some Internet-taxes, H.R. 49, which goes before the House Judiciary Committee today for mark-up.

“New Democrat policies represent the best combination of reasonable, sustainable economic development and social responsibility,” said Rep. Ed Case (D-Hawaii). “These initiatives will implement what mainstream America seeks.”

The e-genda argues for a strong homeland security program, based on effective organization and oversight of the new Department of Homeland Security and the appropriate use of information sharing and technology to prevent, deter, and respond to terrorist attacks. Homeland Security expert Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) said “the New Democrats' plan will draw on the technology and expertise of the Bay Area, Silicon Valley and beyond to strengthen our homeland security. It's a positive step that the New Democrats are encouraging the Department of Homeland Security to tap into the wealth of technology at our national defense labs. And, I am optimistic that our push to get the government to develop a coordinated procurement strategy will help ensure common-sense buying, maximum interoperability and further stimulate economic recovery of the tech sector.”

“With deficits as far as the eye can see and an increasing jobless rate, the e-genda is a roadmap for job creation and the technologies we need to secure our homeland,” concurred Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.).

New Democrats believe that issues like education are also important to the growth of the New Economy: “In order to help all citizens be full participants in the New Economy, it is critical we recognize the opportunities of the high-tech economy and pursue policies that facilitate it,” said NDC co-chair Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wisc.). “As a member of the House Education and Workforce Committee, I am proud our e-genda recognizes the necessity of investing in job training and education giving our children and our workers the tools to compete in the global marketplace.”

The New Democrat Coalition believes in a 21st century plan for growth that will:

  • Invest in education and a skilled workforce so that all Americans have the opportunity to succeed in the New Economy;
  • Foster the digital economy and digital government so that productivity and technology continue to be the engine of our economic growth and that Americans can participate in their democracy;
  • Promote innovation by ensuring our laws reflect the realities of the New Economy to unleash the potential to improve people’s lives and open doors to the future;
  • Promote global leadership to open overseas markets to American goods and services while addressing labor standards, environmental issues and responsible investment policies in the world economy; and
  • Enhance homeland security by creating public-private partnerships, utilizing technology, and creating a more streamlined, coordinated and accountable government.

Founded in 1997, the New Democrat Coalition (NDC) is a group of centrist Democrats that has quickly grown to more than 70 members. Since its creation, two-thirds of Democrats elected to the House have joined the NDC, making it the largest and one of the most influential caucuses in the House.

For a full copy of e-genda 2003, visit the New Democrat Coalition online at: www.house.gov/adamsmith/NDC/ndc.html

Today, Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.), joined by several colleagues in the House and Senate, introduced legislation to increase trade with the Middle East and Muslim world, “The Middle East Trade and Engagement Act of 2003.”

“Promoting stability and economic growth in this region of the world must be about more than just foreign aid and military action,” Smith said.  “We need to help bring these countries – and most importantly their people – into the global community, and history shows us that trade and economic relationships with other countries are the best way to reach that goal.  I am confident that a greater focus on trade with the Middle East and Muslim world will improve relations between America and these nations, promote economic growth and a rising middle class, and improve our national security.”

Joining Smith in introducing the House bill is Representative Cal Dooley (D-Calif.).  Senators Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) have introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

The legislation would provide for duty-free treatment of certain goods for countries who meet a set of criteria.  The criteria includes:

  1. the beneficiary nation must be making progress towards a market-based economy;
  2. promotion of the rule of law, due process, and other judicial rights;
  3. political pluralism and democratic elections;
  4. elimination of barriers to trade;
  5. economic policies that reduce poverty and provide certain social benefits, such as health care, education, and physical infrastructure;
  6. a system to combat bribery and corruption;
  7. not engaging in activities that threaten U.S. security and supports a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict;
  8. a signatory of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights; and
  9. is not listed by the U.S. Department of State as a sponsor of terrorism.

Smith first proposed the idea of a Middle East and Muslim World Trade package in a speech last year to the World Trade Council in Seattle, Washington.  The speech can be found online at:
http://www.house.govinternational/021029pr.html.

In that speech, Smith recognized that goods from the Middle East were saddled with some of the highest tariffs in America.  “Our trade policy is skewed against this region of the world,” noted Smith.  “If we truly want the Middle East to become a more stable region of the world, with an economy that can support a real middle class instead of the poverty of dignity that supports terrorism, we must give them the opportunity to grow and sell their goods here in America.”

Some of these goods include agricultural products such as nuts, dates, and figs, and labor-intensive factory goods, particularly textiles such as luggage, clothing, and carpets.  The tariffs on these goods are among the highest of all goods imported.

“At the same time, this legislation demands action by those countries in the Middle East and Muslim World,” explained Smith.  “Every country in the region is eligible, but they need to meet a set of criteria that demonstrate a commitment to freedom, democracy, human rights, fighting terrorism, and building a real middle class in their own nation.  To be sure, most – if not all – of the eligible nations will have to make real reforms, but if they do so, this bill ensures their efforts will lead to a more productive relationship with America and the rest of the world.”

President Bush recently proposed his own Middle East trade initiative, culminating in the creation of a free trade area in the Middle East by 2013.

While this is a good long-term goal, the people in the Middle East need our help now.  The Middle East Trade and Engagement Act of 2003 can have an immediate impact and bring the benefits of trade to the people of the Middle East in a much shorter time.  It will also help those countries make the significant economic reforms they will have to make before a free trade agreement can become a realistic option.

“I believe this should be at the top of the Bush Administration’s trade agenda for 2003,” continued Smith.  “We must demonstrate to the Middle East and Muslim world that we are looking to be partners with them in the goal of economic growth and stability for their region.”
 

Today, in response to the Boeing Company’s release of a list of criteria for site selection for assembly of the 7E7, Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) issued the following statement: 

“After seeing the criteria released today by the Boeing Company, I am more convinced than ever that the Puget Sound region is the right place for the 7E7 site.  Our region is attractive due to the first-class workforce, the strong community support for Boeing’s efforts, and our terrific ports, among other things.  I look forward to working with Boeing and our region’s leaders to ensure that Boeing builds the 7E7 here in the Puget Sound region and that the decades-long history of cooperation and partnership between Washington state and Boeing is strengthened in the 21st century.”

 

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) announced today that the U.S. Department of Transportation has provided $9,900,131 for New Start funds for station construction along the Tacoma-Lakewood commuter rail segment.  The project will include two stations in Tacoma and one station in Lakewood, in addition to a park and ride facility at 512.

“I am very excited about the Tacoma to Lakewood Sounder segment,” said Smith. “It’ll give South Sound residents a viable transit alternative for their daily commutes.  Step by step, our region is moving towards solving our transportation problems and today’s announcement is an important component in that effort.”
 

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) announced today that the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) has approved the Central Puget Sound Economic Development District’s applications for their economic development planning program and for an EDA direct investment. CEDC will receive $100,000 for program implementation and $96,000 to develop an economic cluster development plan for vacant areas adjacent to Sea-Tac Airport.

“The approval of these funds is great news for the Central Puget Sound area,” Smith said.  “The funding will allow the region to maintain its eligibility for EDA public works grants and other kinds of assistance.  Local communities can receive funding to strengthen their physical infrastructure, and create family-wage jobs for members of their community.  I expect to work closely with the Economic Development District on projects, like the Lakewood sewer, that are critical to our region.”

The EDA planning grant award will help the Economic Development District work with local governments and other economic development organizations to create family-wage jobs in the central Puget Sound region.  The Economic Development District will use the funds to help coordinate economic development in the region, provide technical assistance and prioritize public works projects within the region for EDA funding.  The grant award is especially critical now, when Washington state has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. 

The New Economic Strategy Triangle (NEST) initiative is a partnership between the cities of Des Moines, SeaTac and Burien, the Economic Development District and the Port of Seattle.  NEST will examine how to best use industrial and commercial properties near Sea-Tac International Airport and maximize their economic potential.