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The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives unveiled a new
stimulus package Thursday that included what could be the news
technology manufacturers have been waiting to hear.

More than $650 million dollars will be needed to assist in the
transition to digital television broadcasts. The funds would be used to
assist in paying for a coupon program administered by the Department of
Commerce to help consumers offset the cost of purchasing digital-TV
converter boxes. At this time, the government has a waiting list of
viewers who want the $40 coupons.

Additional highlights of the proposal include:

  • $20 billion for health care technology to run through the tech
    industry. It is anticipated the funds will be spent on medical systems,
    and in addition organizations will likely purchase new computers and
    additional software.
  • $6 billion to promote deployment of high-speed Internet access in unserved and underserved areas.
  • $3 billion to the National Science Foundation to increase staffing, buy equipment and build and repair research facilities.
  • $2 billion for schools and government agencies to buy computer hardware and software.

In addition to spending, tax incentives will also be available.
Businesses would get what is described as a “bonus” depreciation for
investing in new plants and equipment. These businesses also would be
eligible to write off current losses against the past five years of tax
returns. Any business participating in the current TARP or bailout
programs will not be eligible.

Analysts and economic leaders warn of enthusiasm at this point.
President-elect Barack Obama has the inauguration just days away before
he can get to passing packages and signing documents. Even with a fast
track for the program, there will be delays to recognizing the stimulus
as checks will have to be dispersed in order of importance.

For solution providers, opportunities will increase in the second
half of 2009 with additional funds being available to schools, health
care institutions and local state governments.

Accountability will be the name of this package. Key Democrats are
seeking a series of spending checks and balances to ensure the stimulus
package—paid for with hundreds of billions of dollars in new national
debt—is appropriately used and achieving its desired results. Elected
state and local officials will have to personally certify that
expenditures under their jurisdiction are appropriate. The package also
calls for program managers to be listed online so the public can hold
them accountable.

Pundits, analysts and economic professors all agree that, if passed,
this plan could reduce unemployment by as much as 1.7 percent. What
remains unclear is who will benefit the most, large corporations or
small businesses? It is my opinion that solution providers who are
poised to focus on vertical solutions and services could be the clear

Kathleen Martin is the special projects coordinator for Channel Insider.