I recently wrote about Intel's new policy lead in DC, Peter Cleveland. He joins Intel general counsel Bruce Sewell in an interview with the National Journal's Winter Casey and talk about Intel's current state of policy play, the eternal trade association merger question and what to expect post-election. Some excerpts....
Q: It doesn't seem like any of the tech industry's policy desires -- such as the push for more H1-B visas for skilled workers, the research and development tax credit, trade authority, or broadband access -- are going to be a high priority in either a John McCain or Obama administration. Do you agree?
Sewell: Nothing is going to happen for the first -- I don't know how long -- while people sort out the financial crisis. We are going to be mired in this for some period of time when the new administration, whomever it is, takes over. Getting things on the agenda is going to be a challenge.... If you accept the picture you have just painted for us, there are two things you can do. We can take our marbles, go back to California, stick our head in the sand and hope that everything is going to be all right someday, or we can try to make a bigger investment -- both in terms of time, money, resources -- in telling the story.
Q: As companies are looking to tighten up financially in this weakening economy, will more technology associations merge? And will trade associations lower their fees?
Cleveland: You have heard about talks between [the American Electronics Association] and [the Information Technology Association of America] -- I am not sure where they stand. [The Information Technology Industry Council] has just put a big person in place. I would expect these types of discussions to continue given the overlap between TechNet, CEO Technology Council, and ITAA and AEA and ITI -- there are a lot of acronyms out there -- and Intel is involved in a lot of these trade associations.
Sewell: I think it is different for each trade association. I think we have already seen trade associations that are willing to negotiate in their fees at this point and are willing to say, "We would like to keep you on board, but if you want to drop to a lower membership level that's OK." So there is more ability to negotiate, there's more flexibility in fees, but I don't think there is a common policy across the trade associations to either drop their fees or to change the way in which they charge the fees.... There is consolidation in the tech industry, so not surprisingly there will be consolidation in tech associations. I think it is likely to be the case that we will see some consolidation.
Q: Are you funding anything in Washington to support new growth areas for Intel?
Cleveland: Because the playing field here is going to change a little bit, we want to be able to pounce in terms of adjustments in what happens in the House, Senate and the new administration. John McCain might have a different view on immigration, something that's more moderate than his Republican Party counterparts, as is the case with Obama and his innovation agenda as well.
There is going to be a change in the players. And the fact that, let's say hypothetically Democrats prevailed and there was a Democratic administration. You won't have had that since '92 -- 16 years -- that might cause some adjustments in some of the issues that we cite. You have to be ready.