Videos & Speeches

Mr. President, I appreciate so much the remarks of the Senator from Oregon, Sen. Wyden.

It was a significant moment in my brief time as a Member of the United States Senate when, three months ago, Senator Wyden and I had a conversation here on the Senate floor about this legislation, about PIPA and about SOPA, and about the open Internet, and it was a moment in which Senator Wyden found me looking for ways in which I could be engaged in the process of trying to create an environment in which entrepreneurship flourished in the United States.

I had been discouraged or disillusioned a bit by the lack of Congress's and the President's ability to find ways to reduce spending and to balance the budget, and while I don't intend ever to walk away from those important issues, it became clear to me that another way we can reach a more balanced budget is to have a growing economy. I started looking at research that would suggest how we get there, and when Senator Wyden presented this thought to me about engaging on this issue, it was one that made so much sense to me, and I am very grateful for the partnership we have developed.

Senator Wyden and I, as he said, indicated that we intended to speak this evening about our concerns about the PROTECT IP Act prior to the bill being considered this week on the Senate floor. But because of the actions of millions of Americans in voicing their concerns about this legislation, it is no longer necessary for us to throw procedural obstacles in the way of the PROTECT IP Act, and I appreciate the majority leader withdrawing his plan to hold a vote tomorrow on this legislation.

Last week's events, in which we all received so much input, are a very good reminder of what a powerful tool the Internet can be. It was encouraging to see so many Americans get involved, particularly young Americans who often choose not to be involved in the process. But they saw something important to them, and they knew exactly how to communicate with elected officials. What became clear last week was that Congress, in this issue and its far-reaching implications, were not fully yet understood, and so to take a pause, to take a step back and to reconsider the direction we were going seems so appropriate to me.

Congress has the responsibility to remain engaged and up to speed on all issues, particularly those that so directly impact our economy. It is no easy task given that technology is constantly evolving, but it is an important task. Technology holds incredible promise, from strengthening education, to delivering health care more efficiently, to allowing entrepreneurs to develop products that have yet to be invented. By remaining more engaged, Congress will also be better able to enact public policies that encourage Americans to innovate, create new products, and strengthen the economy.

Last week's decision to delay consideration of PIPA was an important moment for many innovators and entrepreneurs across America, and it was an outcome that my colleagues and I—Senator Wyden and others—sought to see occur. It is important also not just to entrepreneurs, though, but to people who are concerned about freedom and about the opportunity to use the Internet to communicate, the opportunity for free speech. And certainly we had concerns about national security.

My concerns about the PROTECT IP Act can be summed up like this: Certain provisions in this legislation will threaten free speech, innovation, and our national security. I am adamantly opposed to legislation that tampers with the Internet security, specifically the Domain Name System. Internet engineers have worked for 15 years to develop a way to authenticate the sites we visit to make sure they are secure and to enhance commerce on the Internet. At a time when our Nation faces increasing numbers of cyber-attacks from abroad, PIPA and SOPA would create significant security risks and set America back more than a decade.

Second, both PIPA and SOPA would create new liabilities because of vague definitions in the bills that would drag companies into unnecessary and prolonged litigation. We don't need more legal battles. Congress should not put in place a system that would force law-abiding innovators to utilize their limited resources in the courtroom to defend themselves rather than invest in their companies, develop new products, and hire new workers.

America is a country of innovation that was founded on freedom and opportunity, and that has been true since the birth of our Nation when entrepreneurs have strengthened our country and its economy by creating new products and sharing them around the world. Americans today still want the opportunity to develop new products and to innovate in the marketplace. Because of the power of technology, ideas that were once only imaginable have now become a reality.

About 1 year ago, Google announced that it was accepting applications from cities across the United States to deploy a 1-gigabit Internet connection, which is roughly 100 times faster than what most users could experience today. Last March, much to my delight and the delight of many Kansans, Google chose Kansas City as the nation's first Google Gigabyte City. In fact, Kansas City was selected from more than 1,100 cities that had applied and competed.

Many people in the Kansas City area were soon asking: What is actually possible with a gigabit Internet connection? What happens when you connect an entire community with a gigabit Internet connection?

An organization called Think Big Partners wanted to know the answer to those questions, so they put together a competition called Gigabit Challenge. The Gigabit Challenge was a project based on an idea and a prediction. They predicted that when Americans are given access to cutting-edge technology—in this case, one of the fastest bandwidths in the world—new innovations, new applications, and new products would be created. So they challenged entrepreneurs and innovators to come up with products that will leverage this new network capacity and offered significant cash prizes for the three best ideas.

The response was overwhelming: 113 ideas were submitted from 5 continents, 7 countries, and 22 States. The list was eventually narrowed down to 17 companies that presented last week to a distinguished panel of judges. I had the opportunity to join Think Big Partners in Kansas City last week for part of that event, and I was impressed, so impressed, by what I saw, and I congratulate the prize winners tonight who competed, and I congratulate all who competed and brought new ideas to the table.

The Gigabit Challenge underscores the fact that Americans want to innovate, and Congress should encourage innovation rather than create new hurdles for American creators and innovators.

One of the most important things Congress can do to encourage innovation is to make it easier for entrepreneurs to start a business. Last month, Senator Warner and I introduced bipartisan legislation called the Startup Act to jump-start the economy through creation and growth of new businesses. Data from the Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City shows that between 1980 and 2005, nearly all of the net jobs that were created in the United States were created by companies less than 5 years old. In fact, new businesses create about 3 million jobs each year.

The Startup Act recognizes the job-creating potential of entrepreneurs and is based upon five pro-growth principles:

First, the Startup Act will reduce the regulatory burden on new businesses and startups. New businesses, which are almost always small, face a tough challenge complying with the various rules and regulations that govern business behavior. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, companies with fewer than 20 employees spend 36 percent more per employee than larger firms to comply with federal regulations.

The president and CEO of the National Association for the Self-Employed, who endorsed the Startup Act, said this:

The majority of small businesses are enterprises of 1-2 people. .....Cutting down on some of the unnecessary red tape that new businesses must face means that the owner can spend more time growing their business, hiring employees, and helping to turn our Nation's economy back around. The Startup Act would help address these regulatory burdens faced by new companies.

Reducing regulatory burdens means entrepreneurs will have more time and money to invest in their business and to hire more workers.

Secondly, the Startup Act creates tax incentives to help facilitate the financing of new businesses so they can get off the ground and grow more quickly. One of the greatest challenges for startups is accessing the necessary capital to grow their business. The Startup Act provides capital gains and income tax incentives to facilitate financing the new business at its critical juncture of firm growth. Helping entrepreneurs attract investment and retain greater share of the company's profits will lead to job growth.

Third, the Startup Act recognizes that innovation drives the American economy. Some of the best minds in the world work and study at American universities. The innovation that occurs on campuses across the Nation contribute to the strength and vitality of our economy. To speed up the movement of new technologies to the marketplace where they can propel economic growth, the Startup Act uses a portion of existing Federal research and development funding to support innovative projects at American universities in order to accelerate and improve the commercialization of cutting-edge technologies developed through faculty research. When more good ideas make their way out of the laboratory and into the marketplace, more businesses and more jobs are created.

Fourth, the Startup Act encourages pro-growth State and local policies through the publication of reports on new business formation and the entrepreneurial environments in States. I am proud that Kansas City leaders recognize the importance of policies that support entrepreneurs. Last year, area leaders declared that Kansas City should be called ``America's Most Entrepreneurial City,'' given their efforts to encourage entrepreneurship. Better policies at the State and local level will create more opportunities for entrepreneurs to open more businesses and put more Americans to work.

Finally, the Startup Act will help win the global battle for talent by keeping entrepreneurial-minded and highly skilled workers in the United States. For too long, our Nation's immigration policies have turned away American-educated talent and sent highly-skilled individuals back to their home country where they compete against America. Rather than lose that talent, we need to keep those highly-skilled individuals and potential job-creators in the United States.

Our legislation recognizes the job-creating potential of entrepreneurial and highly-skilled immigrants, and provides additional opportunities for those who are here legally, on a temporary basis, to stay if they have the high-tech skills our economy needs or are willing to help and able to create jobs for Americans. Highly-skilled workers will fuel growth at technology startups and entrepreneurial immigrants will employ Americans.

Business and industry leaders across the country are speaking out about the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship. Gary Shapiro, the President and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, said this:

As a country we must do more to support and foster innovation and entrepreneurialism, and the introduction of the Startup Act is an important step forward.

Dr. Robert Atkinson, the President and Founder of the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation echoed those remarks. He said:

The United States is at risk of losing its economic leadership and vitality and it is essential for policymakers to unite in practical ways to reverse this trend. The Startup Act is a commendable example of what is needed to restore U.S. innovation-based competitiveness.

The millions of Americans who spoke out last week against a bill that would stifle innovation on the Internet understand the importance of this too.

Fostering innovation and promoting entrepreneurship are not Republican or Democrat ideas: they are American values. What occurred last week is a reminder to all of us in this Senate about the leadership that is necessary. Again, I congratulate Senator Wyden for providing that leadership. With good leaders in Washington, DC, and with the American people who understand in many instances better than we often do the value of entrepreneurship, of free speech and an open Internet, great things can once again happen in the United States of America. Our economy can flourish and grow.

It is so important that what occurred this week, with the legislation not proceeding, sets the stage for greater opportunities for Americans across our country to have a dream, to pursue it, to succeed, to spend their time pursuing that dream, and in achieving their dreams they have the opportunity to create success for others.

I urge my colleagues to work with me; let us work together. Our country cannot wait until after another election to get the economy growing again.