Five tech issues to watch in a Donald Trump presidency

How might a Donald Trump presidency affect Silicon Valley? Here’s a rundown of some issues that are important to the tech industry.

Trade: Trump has talked tough about trade, including slamming the Trans-Pacific Partnership that the tech industry has endorsed. In addition, among the seven items on the trade plan on his website are three about China, including “instruct the U.S. Trade Representative to bring trade cases against China.” These threats and possible actions are likely to affect American tech companies doing business and manufacturing in China, such as Apple, Intel, HP and many others.

Clean energy: Trump has called climate change a hoax created by the Chinese, and has identified climate-change spending as “wasteful” and has vowed to eliminate it. Among the goals listed under the regulations part of Trump’s websites is to “scrap the EPA’s so-called Clean Power Plan.” Getting rid of government incentives for clean-energy companies and consumers could slow growth of and innovation in solar and other industries. Shares of companies such as electric-car maker Tesla and SolarCity are down sharply today.

Repatriation: Will Trump’s tax policy prompt tech companies to bring to the United States the profits they’ve been stashing overseas? By Moody’s last count, in 2015, U.S. companies held $1.2 trillion outside the country, with Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet/Google, Cisco and Oracle topping the list.

Trump’s tax plan proposes to reduce the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent, including a one-time rate of 10 percent for companies to bring the profits they’ve stashed overseas back to the United States, according to his website. If companies do repatriate, what might they do with that money? Options include paying down debt, investing in new technology or buying other companies.

Immigration: It’s common knowledge that Trump has railed against illegal immigration. What about the H-1B visas that many tech companies use? Trump’s immigration plan on his website does not mention them and is vague about the kinds of skilled workers he would want to let in, but in March he did offer a statement to clarify what seemed at the time to be a softening of his views: “I will forever end the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program, and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers first for every visa and immigration program. No exceptions.”, a tech immigration advocacy group that has publicly denounced Trump’s immigration policies, has not yet responded to our request for comment.

Manufacturing: Trump’s website does not provide specifics on how he would bring manufacturing back to the United States. But he has called for Apple to make its “damn computers here.” Will he follow through and put pressure on tech companies to make more of their products in the U.S.? How will he force the world’s most valuable publicly traded company to change its practices and participation in the global economy in which it’s heavily invested? (For the record, Apple and some other companies do make some of their products here.)


Photo: Donald Trump, president-elect of the United States. (Seth Wenig/AP file)


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  • jakeleone

    Most, more than half, of the generally available H-1b visas are used by Offshore Outsourcing companies in order to facilitate the removal of jobs from the United States.

    If Offshore Outsourcing companies were barred from the H-1b U.S. Federal Government program, we would never have seen a year, since inception, where we ran out of H-1b visas.

    We should be reserving H-1b visas for companies that actually create jobs in the United States.

    Silicon Valley CEOs are just a bunch of whiners that only use about 1/3 of the H-1b visas. They whine like drug addicts for more (or unlimited) H-1b visas, when the truth is any increase in the number of H-1b visas will simply be taken up by Offshore Outsourcing companies, and so speed up job destruction in the United States.

    The only reason why they can’t get access to the H-1b visa, when they demand it. Is because Offshore Outsourcing companies take up all the excess supply, and in doing so force a lottery (which is also another insane aspect of the H-1b program).

    If you ask me, all the insane aspects of the H-1b program are in their just so industy lobbyists and CEO’s have a reason to call for another reform of the program (a reform that comes with another huge increase in the number of H-1b visas). This program could be fixed once and for all, with just a few simple requirements, and we would never need to increase the number of H-1b visas.

    Just kick the Offshore Outsourcing companies out of the H-1b program. And make a requirement to recruit local candidates first. And only give H-1b visas to companies, for positions, that will lead to innovation (not duplication as a prelude to Offshore jobs).

    The Offshore Outsourcing companies don’t need any Federal assistance in their business. They can use the Free market (you know Capitalism) same as any other business on Main St. And we should be reserving (far fewer apparently) H-1b visas for companies that create jobs in the United States.

    Any reform less than this, is insane. The H-1b statute, as it currently stands, is completely insane. Hence the huge number of lawsuits, criminal activity, and economic destruction wrought by this one poorly written and administered Federal Government Visa program.