What the Next President’s Economic Policies Will Mean for Tech

The incumbent wants to promote innovation. The likely GOP nominee wants to protect American business. Both strategies will determine the trajectory of the U.S. tech sector for years to come.

Written by Ala Shaabana
Published on Feb. 14, 2024
What the Next President’s Economic Policies Will Mean for Tech
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Reflecting the distinctive approaches of the Democratic and Republican parties, the economic strategies proposed by President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, the likely GOP nominee, present divergent paths for America’s future. 

However, looking past the surface-level political discourse and divisions, it’s crucial to delve into how these strategies could specifically influence the tech sector in the United States. 

Two Candidates, Two Economic Strategies

  • Joe Biden: Investing in research and development in sectors such as AI, clean energy and biotech with an aim toward harnessing technology to shape the future.
  • Donald Trump: Tariffs to correct trade imbalances, particularly with China, tax cuts for corporations and regulatory rollbacks to promote business growth.

This article sets out to explore these potential impacts, homing in on critical areas such as trade practices, tax policies and regulatory frameworks under Trump, as opposed to the research investments, tax reforms and labor initiatives suggested by Biden. Our goal is to analyze the potential effects of these policies on the technological landscape of the nation, weighing immediate consequences against the backdrop of their long-term implications.

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Biden’s Blueprint: Investing in the Future

Joe Biden’s approach to economic policy emphasizes the avant-garde, with ambitious plans for investing in research and development within sectors such as artificial intelligence, clean energy and biotech. This strategic investment aims to spark innovations, creating a robust environment for new discoveries and partnerships across government bodies, educational institutions and the private sector. His strategy is focused on a commitment to harnessing technology to shape the future, resonating with the tech industry’s progressive mindset.

Biden’s tax policy, aiming to increase corporate taxes and ensure corporations pay their fair share, introduces a potential challenge to the tech industry’s bottom line. This approach seeks to balance the scales, using tax revenues to fund public infrastructure and services that indirectly support the tech ecosystem. Yet the immediate financial implications for tech companies cannot be overlooked.

Labor and workforce development under Biden receive a renewed focus, emphasizing the importance of upskilling in an economy increasingly defined by technological advancement. For the tech industry, this could mean a more skilled workforce, albeit with increased costs associated with more stringent labor regulations.
 

Trump’s Vision: Protecting American Businesses

During his presidency, Donald Trump strongly advocated for the use of tariffs to correct trade imbalances, particularly with China. This approach, designed to protect American businesses, brings complex repercussions for the technology industry.

On one side, imposing tariffs on imports from China drives up the price of components used in everything from smartphones to data servers, which could hinder the pace of tech adoption by raising expenses. Conversely, these measures promote the growth of domestic manufacturing and are likely to stimulate the diversification of supply chains, a critical strategy in the current global economic climate marked by geopolitical tensions.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, another cornerstone of Trump’s economic policy, slashed corporate tax rates, presumably boosting profits for tech giants and fostering a favorable environment for R&D and expansion. However, the reality of these situations is often different. The windfall was not evenly distributed, with startups and smaller firms often left wanting in the shadow of tech behemoths.

Regulatory rollbacks under Trump aimed at promoting business growth present a double-edged sword. While they offer a streamlined path for innovation and scaling, concerns around data privacy, consumer protection and environmental sustainability loom large, posing ethical and operational questions for the tech industry.

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The Path Forward for Tech

The contrast in economic policies between Trump and Biden delineates divergent paths for the tech industry. The sector stands at a crossroads, with decisions made today likely to have far-reaching implications for innovation, international competitiveness and workforce development. As we consider these policies, it’s essential to weigh their immediate effects against the backdrop of broader economic challenges, including the ongoing recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tech’s fortunes are inextricably linked with global market dynamics, regulatory environments and the societal impact of technology.

Short-term impacts, such as the cost implications of tariffs or the benefits of tax cuts, must be balanced with long-term considerations — how will investments in R&D shape the next wave of technological breakthroughs? How will changes in the regulatory and labor landscapes affect America’s position in the global tech race?

The tech industry does not operate in a vacuum; its fortunes are inextricably linked with global market dynamics, regulatory environments and the societal impact of technology. As such, any evaluation of economic policies must consider the international stage, especially the competition with global powers like China and the European Union.

Moreover, the diversity within the tech sector — from startups pushing the boundaries of innovation to established giants shaping global tech policy — means that the impacts of these policies will be far from uniform. A nuanced understanding of these dynamics is crucial as we navigate the complex interplay between economic policy and technological progress.

In conclusion, the future of technology in America is being shaped by the economic policies of today. As we chart this course, a balanced, thoughtful examination of these policies and their implications for innovation, equity and sustainability in the tech sector is more important than ever. The decisions we make now will determine the landscape of American technology for years to come, underscoring the need for a dialogue that transcends partisan lines and focuses on the shared goal of a thriving, innovative tech ecosystem.

Views expressed by expert contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of Built In or its editorial staff.

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