Ro Khanna: tech finance bill is about ‘not just jobs, but new patriotism’

Rep. Ro Khanna, a Silicon Valley congressman, drafted the Infinite Frontiers Act as part of a sweeping technological innovation bill that appeared to be on the fast track before stalling in Congress.

Ahead of recent political developments that have jeopardized the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act – Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is threatening to block it because he opposes the U.S. budget reconciliation bill. Democrats – CNET spoke to Hannah, Calif., about the bill. including how it should help create high-paying jobs and broaden the definition of what a tech job is.

Hanna went on to say Thursday that he still hopes Congress will pass the multibillion-dollar USICA bill, although it may be that Congress will pass the narrower, $52 billion CHIPS bill instead.

Don’t miss the update: Three possible outcomes for a stalled tech finance bill, co-author says

Many of USICA’s goals align with the ideas outlined by the congressman in his book Dignity in the Digital Age. In the book, he wrote about what technology, automation, and the “digital economy” have done, including rising inequality and the concentration of high-paying jobs in a few places around the country.

Khanna wrote: “There is no reason for a region that has lagged behind to be left behind.

This interview was conducted in the spring and has been edited for length and clarity.

CBS: What does it matter that this law is bipartisan?

HannahA: From the very beginning, when Chuck Schumer, Todd Young, Mike Gallagher and I drafted the bill, it was bipartisan. His goal was to ensure that advanced manufacturing and production was done in America and not outsourced.

It’s not just about jobs. It is about new patriotism, the spirit of renewal, the desire to become productive and glorious. It’s a message that goes beyond parties, races and geography. It can help bring this country back together.

This powerful message received 69 votes in the Senate and a large number of votes in the House of Representatives. I give the Republicans who voted for this as much credit as the Democrats.

CNET: This bill advertises high-paying jobs. Which? And what can be done to ensure that the jobs that come out of this legislation don’t end up putting workers in the same situations that some workers now work for technology companies that want to unionize in part because of poor working conditions. ?

Hannah: The technical professions of the future are not just a profession of a programmer. We need to demystify what “technical” work is. They will work in agriculture, manufacturing, trade, construction and repair. These jobs will pay well and will pay between $30 and $40 an hour. These will be middle class jobs.

There are two different problems.

How to create good, well-paid jobs? We need corporate tax breaks, investment in HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities), and more.

No matter what, we need a living wage. There are many jobs in the service industry, such as working in a warehouse, where people are not paid properly. You may be looking at Amazon AMZN.
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workers where the worst thing a human boss has is an algorithm as a boss.

With the cost of living rising, we need to make it easier for people to unionize and classify them as employees rather than contractors so they can negotiate higher wages and take their rightful place in the middle class. This means the adoption of the law PRO (protection of the right to organize).

CNET: What else can Congress do to ensure these things besides this legislation?

Hana: We also need to put in place measures such as paid family leave and childcare so that workers can balance their obligations to their families.

Companies in my area have a market capitalization of $11 trillion. This is more wealth than any other region in human history.

In the digital age, we can afford to pay our employees properly. They must be able to afford housing and medical care, and have a living wage. These are not unattainable goals.

We have two imperatives. First, to provide every community with access to high-paying jobs, as is the case with Intel INTC,
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in Ohio. The second part is to make sure that the workers have high wages. We need a vision for the middle class in the 21st century.

See: Intel Postpones Ohio Plant Groundbreaking Ceremony

CBS: How will technology centers contribute to this vision? You said that technology centers and this law will help cut costs for working families and ensure that communities of color are not left behind.

HannahA: Some of the causes of inflation are the lack of supply and the increase in shipping costs, so that the production cost is higher. Increasing production in the long run will help. It’s not a magic pill and won’t fix everything all at once, but it may help over the next few years.

Semiconductor manufacturing is one of the most important links in the supply chain. Technical centers can and will contribute to meeting the needs of the country.

Both black and brown communities should participate in these technical works. Jobs may come from technical centers in locations where there is an HBCU, or [a high concentration of Black and Latino residents]. We can set up one or two of these technical centers in South Carolina, Atlanta, or St. Louis.

After all, I would like to see a technology center in every state in every country. I wish I had a huge investment to bring back other electronic manufacturing, not just ICs. This should underlie the new bipartisan vision of the country.

CNET: What message do you want people to take away from this bill and this effort?

Hana: In my book, I was struck by the story of Alex Hughes. [Hughes lost his business because of the decline of the coal industry in Kentucky. He got some tech training, became a coder and now is a software developer.]

Hughes is still doing things. He said that “generations of Hughes have done what I can do”.

These professions should be spoken of as useful. Communities recognize changes in the economy and want to participate in them. This is the key to what is happening in our country.

This is similar to what happened in the early 1900s during the transition from an agrarian society to industrialization. This led to anti-immigration sentiment, opposition to Reconstruction, and wholehearted allegiance to Jim Crow and the Ku Klux Klan. This was largely driven by economic concerns, according to WEB Dubois.

We have a sense of job loss, polarization and deindustrialization. We have creeping undercurrents of xenophobia and hatred. One way to fix this is to empower yourself and your children with the opportunities of this economy. You can do this in jobs that don’t require a college degree. This bipartisan message can help America now.