This article was published on March 21, 2012

Paul Ryan v. Obama: Dueling budgets, from a tech perspective

Paul Ryan v. Obama: Dueling budgets, from a tech perspective
Alex Wilhelm
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Alex Wilhelm

Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected] Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected]

How excited would you be to read through several hundred pages of competing budget plans for the fiscal 2013 year of the US Federal government? I thought as much.

However, while you might not be interested in the arcana of budgetary bombast and bylines, I have come up with a way that can show, in one way, the emphasis that each budget puts on issues that concern technology. This is the quickest and dirtiest method that I could summon. That being true, it will still take some time.

We’re going to count the number of instances in each budget of certain words and topics that are critical for the technology community. You’ll see. For each entry, we’ll also include a quote from each budget that demonstrates, in our view, the gist of what each party is trying to do. Of course, we checked the occurrence of each entry of the phrase in both budgets to ensure that they were on topic.

Something to keep in mind: Obama’s budget is more than twice as long as Ryan’s. Make of that what you will. And finally, I am starting this post unsure of what I will find. I’m not writing this with an agenda. I honestly, and sincerely want to present some easy to digest information and quotes from the budgets to the tech community, and nothing more.


Paul Ryan: 5

  • Over the past century, the American people have sought to furnish a strong and stable base of health and retirement security for working families. In a free society built on entrepreneurial risk-taking and hard work, such protection provides insurance against the vagaries of life. But when government mismanagement and political cowardice turn this element of the social contract into an empty promise, seniors are threatened with denied access to care and the next generation is threatened with a debt that destroys its hard-earned prosperity

Obama: 22

  • It is also time for government to do its part to help make it easier for entrepreneurs, inventors, and workers to grow their businesses and thrive in the global economy. I am calling on Congress to immediately begin work on corporate tax reform that will close loopholes, lower the overall rate, encourage investment here at home, simplify taxes for America’s small businesses, and not add a dime to the deficit.


Paul Ryan: 27

  • For decades, the U.S. economy has been a magnet for investors, entrepreneurs and workers because America enjoys some of the strongest and most transparent legal protections in the world. These protections provide a stable environment for business investment – stability that is undermined when the discretionary power of bureaucrats is enhanced.

Obama: Hundreds. [There are 405 instances of words that share the root ‘invest’ in this budget. We’re not going to parse them all for our usage here.]

  • Helps Innovative Small Businesses Obtain Early-Stage Financing. SBA will use the Innovation Fund within the SBIC debenture program to address the capital gap many start-ups face between “angel investor” financing and later-stage venture capital financing. Beginning in 2012 and over five years, up to $200 million in guarantees for matching funds will be available to investors aiming to support innovative companies seeking to ramp up their operations and create new jobs.


Paul Ryan: 0 For fairness, here’s part of Paul Ryan’s webpage on immigration (full entry here):

  • Although it does not appear likely that a comprehensive immigration bill will be taken up this year, I will continue to advocate for common sense reforms to our broken system.  I believe that any immigration reform bill  passed by Congress must first include strong border security provisions, an enforceable guest worker program, a secure employee verification system, and a system that does not reward illegal behavior, but provides equitable treatment for all immigrants.  In the past, I have supported initiatives that would have accomplished these goals and I will continue to do so as my colleagues and I consider legislation in the 112th Congress.

Obama: 32

  • The United States reaps numerous and significant economic rewards because we remain a magnet for the best, brightest, and most hardworking from across the globe. Many travel here in the hopes of being a part of an American culture of entrepreneurship and ingenuity, and in turn enhance that culture, resulting in jobs for American workers. From Goya to Google, immigrant entrepreneurs and their families have long helped  America lead the world. The Administration is working to reform and streamline our legal immigration system so that employers, immigrants, and families can navigate the immigration system effectively. For example, the Budget continues the multi-year effort to transition U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services from a paper-based filing service to a customer-focused, electronic filing service. The Budget also continues support for integration of new immigrants, proposing $11 million to promote citizenship through education and naturalization preparation programs, replication of promising practices  in integration for use by communities across the Nation, and expansion of innovative English learning tools. Additionally, the President will continue to insist that Congress work with the Administration to fix the broken immigration system through legislation,  which is the only way to change the law so that it meets America’s 21st Century economic and security needs.

Startup/Startups/Small Business

Paul Ryan: 20

  •  The federal government also has a critical role to play in safeguarding the free-enterprise system, so that fraud is punished, success is rewarded, and the rules are not rigged against the small businessman, the innovator, or the worker. In Abraham Lincoln’s words, the true object of government should be to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all,” so that all may have the same opportunity to rise.

Obama: 72

  • On December 8, in conjunction with the first board meeting of the Startup America Partnership, the Small Business Administration announced that it is moving forward with launching a $1 billion Early Stage Innovation Fund that will provide matching capital to small business investment companies. The Administration also announced commitments from more than 50 private-sector partners to deliver over $1 billion in value to 100,000 startups over the next three years.

Financial regulation/Financial oversight/SEC

Given that it is impossible to pin down the right set of terms to search for, instead of counting this time, I’m going to simply highlight two quotes. I’m sure you understand.

Paul Ryan:

  • In each major sector of the economy, the President and his party’s leaders have offered a vision at odds with the core principles of economic freedom. It is an obsolete vision that favors big, well-established or politically well-connected corporations and unions at the expense of workers and small competitors. It is a vision that creates political inequality by favoring companies with the best connections over those with the best ideas. And it is a vision that inhibits growth by increasing the cost of complying with government regulations instead of leaving enterprises with more money and( more freedom to hire workers and create jobs.


  • To prevent this from happening again, the Administration set out to craft a financial reform package that filled the gaps in oversight, transparency, and restraint; put a check on predatory and abusive lending; and restored accountability to the system—especially for those who had operated outside the regulatory framework. The Administration’s goal was to restore our financial system to its core mission: providing a safe and productive venue for private saving, helping entrepreneurs and businesses with the best ideas to create value and jobs, and enabling families to buy homes, finance college for their children, and secure a dignified retirement.


Obama’s budget has one mention, and Ryan’s none. Both budgets ignore the issue from a tech standpoint. Why expect words on privacy in a budget? Because whatever decisions that the government makes in regards to privacy need to be funded.

Now, if you want to crack at our numbers yourself, you can find the Paul Ryan (Republican) budget here, and the Obama (Democratic) budget here. We’ll leave it there. We hope this brought a small ray of clarity to a massively complex issue.

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