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U.S. President Barack Obama was upbeat at his State of the Union Address, but issued tough challenges to the FCC and Congress, respectively, when it comes to wireless spectrum, oil incentives, and alternative energy.  (Source:


On Wednesday, President Obama will visit Wisconsin green energy startup Orion Energy Systems, a provider of energy-efficient lighting and solar-power solutions. The President will also visit two other local businesses.  (Source: Orion Energy Systems)
Government hopes to release 500 MHz; but plan relies on TV networks agreeing to auction of their spectrum

After pounding net neutrality and several less tech-related issues through the door, U.S. President Barack Obama was back at it during his annual State of the Union Address on Tuesday night, trying to fulfill yet another one of his campaign promises.

I. Step Right up to the Wireless Spectrum Auction!

When elected, the President promised to deliver faster wireless networks to Americans.  How he plans on making good on that promise is by freeing up 500 MHz of spectrum, currently left unused, and selling it to spectrum-hungry wireless network providers like Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile.

During his State of the Union Address [video], he remarked, "Within the next five years, we will make it possible for business to deploy the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98% of all Americans. This isn't just about a faster Internet and fewer dropped calls. It's about connecting every part of America to the digital age."

The federal government has 380 of the 500 MHz it needs.  However, the other 120 MHz is currently occupied and unused by television networks, which were gifted it long ago.  The administration is trying to set up a special auction to convince these networks to part with the unused spectrum by letting them keep a cut of the auction proceeds.

Verizon Wireless general counsel Steve Zipperstein [profile] cheered the measure, stating to Reuters, "President Obama is helping the nation to understand the incredible benefits that broadband wireless can bring: to our business, to healthcare, to productivity and to education.  Wireless innovation requires public policies that foster innovation, growth and encourage continued investment by Verizon and our partners in the technology."

Television broadcasters, however, have expressed mixed feelings on the issue.  While they appreciate that the auction will give them funds and that it's voluntary, they are reticent to part with the unused spectrum, partly because they accuse wireless networks of sitting on unused spectrum they previously purchased.  States Dennis Wharton [profile], a spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters to Reuters, "We would encourage Congress to immediately pass spectrum inventory legislation that fully identifies airwaves that are not being used."

Clearly, as with the net neutrality issue, President Obama has his work cut out for him.  But at the very least, he can urge Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski [profile] to open up the 380 MHz reserve as soon as possible, even if he can't convince TV providers to willingly sell their unused spectrum.

II.  Hitting the Road for Alternative Energy

Life isn't always easy if you're the president of the world's richest nation.  Not ready to call it a night just yet, hours after giving his address President Obama hopped a late night flight to Wisconsin.  There he plans to today plug his five "pillar" vision, which calls for: innovation, education, infrastructure, deficit reduction and government reform.

The visit is largely focused on the innovation and infrastructure pillars, and specifically, his objectives concerning alternative energy.  During his speech last night, the President urged Congress to act swiftly to eliminate incentives to oil companies who import oil from unstable foreign sources (e.g. Venezuela and the Middle East).  

During the speech President Obama stated, "I don't know if you’ve noticed, but [the oil companies are] doing just fine on their own. So instead of subsidizing yesterday’s energy, let’s invest in tomorrow's."

President Obama hopes to walk a narrow tightrope of investing massively in alternative energy, but avoiding increasing the spending deficit.  Key to that plan is scaling back military efforts overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan, refocusing that funding on the home front.

By 2035, the President wants 80 percent of America's energy to come from alternative sources like modern nuclear fission, solar power, wind power, geothermal power, biofuel (algae, switchgrass, etc.), tidal power, and hydroelectric power.  Congress has yet to authorize that lofty goal or discuss what kind of government funding might be necessary to help achieve it.  Meanwhile China and the EU have pledged over a trillion dollars over the next two decades to clean energy projects, threatening to leave the U.S. far behind [1] [2] [3] [4].

On Wednesday, the President will visit [press release] Wisconsin's Orion Energy Systems, a manufacturing company in Manitowoc, that designs energy efficient lighting and solar power solutions, which it sells domestically.  

The President's visit to Manitowoc will be a first for a sitting U.S. President.  Orion Energy Systems CEO and President Neil Verfuerth, cheers the President's decision and the chance to show off the success his "green" firm has enjoyed.  It comes at a time when the energy-efficient lighting industry is reeling from a disappointing study released by the Californian state government, which showed compact fluorescent lamps burning out quicker that expected and saving less energy.

Two other domestic firms in Manitowoc will also receive a visit from the President on Wednesday.  He will travel to Skana Aluminum Company, a revived domestic manufacturer who received a $650,000 state grant to employ 110 people and resume manufacturing.  He will also visit Tower Tech Systems, a wind turbine manufacturer.

Despite the fact that his constituents are eagerly awaiting the President's visit and support, new Wisconsin U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R) [homepage] seized the opportunity to attack the President in a Milwaukee Sentinel-Journal column.  He writes:

Washington's agenda has put a stranglehold on our economy. The pitiful result of the stimulus package is proof that growing government does not grow our economy. We need a thriving private sector to do that. We need to encourage and incentivize entrepreneurs, not tax and regulate them to death.

What America has accomplished over its short history is truly remarkable. America is exceptional -- it is precious. And we are bankrupting it. Americans hunger for leadership. They want leaders who understand that the only way to set America's economy back on the right path is to promote freedom, protect the free market system and respect our founders' vision of limited government.

The call for a limited government will please many, but when China and the EU are racing ahead on the heels of massive high-tech investment in clean energy and high-speed rail, one must wonder if the economic wind is shifting when it comes to massive infrastructure projects.  And many forget that the U.S.'s greatest technological innovations historically -- the railroad system and the telephone network, came on the heels of what would now amount to billions, if not trillions of dollars in land, tax breaks, and subsidies.

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Just another lying dirtbag politician IMO
By Beenthere on 1/26/2011 10:38:02 AM , Rating: -1
Bama is just another lying dirtbag politician IMO except he also wants to socialise America. The sooner he is gone, the sooner this country will start to heal from the damage he is inflicting.

RE: Just another lying dirtbag politician IMO
By raddude9 on 1/26/11, Rating: 0
RE: Just another lying dirtbag politician IMO
By AEvangel on 1/26/2011 11:25:53 AM , Rating: 3
Both of you wrong to some extent...they are all the same.

There is no real difference at all from Bush to Obama, the only real difference I can see is that Obama is a better public speaker and Bush had overblown sense of patriotism behind him due to 9/11 to justify anything he wanted to do.

At this point I don't think there is any real hope to salvage our Federal Govt. It's better the states start stepping up and taking back the power that is rightfully theirs and repealing all this idiotic federal laws and departments by denying their funding or arresting their officers.

RE: Just another lying dirtbag politician IMO
By Parhel on 1/26/2011 11:36:02 AM , Rating: 2
What do you mean by "arresting their officers?"

By quiksilvr on 1/26/2011 12:37:13 PM , Rating: 2
He means rebel against the system into chaos so that in the aftermath we can "reboot" and start anew.

RE: Just another lying dirtbag politician IMO
By HrilL on 1/26/2011 12:37:11 PM , Rating: 3
I don't know about your state but mine can't run itself ether. California used to be and maybe still is the 5th biggest economy yet our government is broke. We spend money on the dumbest things. Paying the most out of any state for welfare and health care. Giving people free money doesn't solve any problems it creates them.

RE: Just another lying dirtbag politician IMO
By AEvangel on 1/26/2011 1:03:33 PM , Rating: 1
They can if they didn't have to follow ever silly Federal guideline and also some states have become over burdened by their own crazy programs, but believe me it's quite a bit easier to change that sort of problem at the state level then it is at the Federal level.

Also consider how much more money a State would have if their citizens were not sending the bulk of their taxes to Washington every year.

RE: Just another lying dirtbag politician IMO
By HrilL on 1/26/2011 4:55:28 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah and then every state would have to have their own military budgets, their own type of FBI and CIA and NSA. Honestly Collective security should be cheaper than each state having their own...

By JediJeb on 1/26/2011 5:23:28 PM , Rating: 2
Federal government should be in charge of security/military and in enforcing interstate laws, but the rest needs to be left up to the states. Let the states handle the health care, welfare, education, ect and the federal handle interstate transportation, military and ports of entry. Have all taxes paid to the states, then the states pay the federal enough to keep it going. If the federal starts running in an inefficient manner then the states have the reigns by the amount of funding they provide.

By TSS on 1/27/2011 8:29:43 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, it would get cheaper for each state.

The FBI dissapears, as does the CIA. The job of the FBI can be done by police detectives while whats left of the CIA can be incorperated by the NSA, as to have 1 institution for state security.

The combined militairy budget of the 51 states won't even be 40% of the current federal budget. With seperate states there's no need, nor money, for the 2 wars in the middle east. There's also no need for Aircraft carriers, at the very least no need for the current super carriers. No need for militairy bases around the world. No need for an invasion force. The only thing you'd need to defend from is the state next to you - anything else you cannot compete with anymore anyway.

That and federal overhead dissapears. No need to tax for federal programs, no need to pay the wages of federal workers. No Federal Income tax!

... Honestly the more i think about it the more it's starting to sound like an actual sollution. I mean, it would probably balance the budgets of nearly all the states at once. While the really rotten ones go bankrupt and get taken over and then returned to profitability. The only sad federal thing to go would be NASA. But honestly if just 1 of the 51 states decides to stimulate space development as their economic model we'd get something much better then NASA, while costing less and opening up more options for more people. Besides once states have stabilized and are growing again it's likely an alliance will be formed at some point or another, starting off the USA again.

It would return the power to the people. Maybe just momentarily, but it will. Democrats AND Republicans are bought and paid for. If the USA collapsed, so would both parties and alot more local parties would be created with local interests in mind. They will be corrupted again with time, of course, but atleast the people bribing them will be local companies, so local interested are still served, somewhat. Has anybody Anywhere really benifitted from say, the new federal healthcare bill?

In closing, it's Balance that allows stuff to be cheaper while beeing more effective. Just like it's not effective to have a body guard for every citizen, and it's not effective to have 1 police officer for every million inhabitants. And it's balance America has competly and utterly lost.

RE: Just another lying dirtbag politician IMO
By Dorkyman on 1/26/11, Rating: -1
By raddude9 on 1/27/2011 3:58:38 AM , Rating: 1
Ah, so socialism is a good thing, eh?

You know I didn't say that, and besides, it's not an "if you're not with us you are against us" type of issue, it's perfectly possible for a state to have a number of social policies while retaining it's free market values, most countries already do this. Don't tell anyone, but pensions and unemployment benefits are socialist policies!

RE: Just another lying dirtbag politician IMO
By captainBOB on 1/26/11, Rating: -1
RE: Just another lying dirtbag politician IMO
By espaghetti on 1/26/2011 2:18:27 PM , Rating: 2
Hear, let me help you.
They both have spent money that they didn't and don't have by virtue of signing bills that were drafted and voted on by a congress that was trying to get re-elected by handing out "grants" and "projects"

Write this down and don't you dare come back with "Well, they all do it!"
It's time to lead by example.

By espaghetti on 1/26/2011 2:20:08 PM , Rating: 2
There. Perfect.

RE: Just another lying dirtbag politician IMO
By MrBungle123 on 1/26/2011 4:04:39 PM , Rating: 2
Hey uh bob... yeah he may have been parroting someone else but If you have been halfway paying attention this last couple years Obama's policies have been pretty much socialistic in nature:

Annex 2 major auto companies... socialistic.

Setup a system to bankrupt health insurance companies (which will mean the government has to eventually come in and "save the day" by being a single payer)... socialistic.

Spend 800 billion dollars on a "stimulus" to fund a bunch of make work government programs, pay off campaign contributors, and extend unemployment "benefits" so that they are funcionally indestinguishable from welfare... socialistic

Its just easier to label him a socialist and be done with it in one word.

RE: Just another lying dirtbag politician IMO
By diggernash on 1/26/2011 6:05:18 PM , Rating: 2
But he said he was going to build us some them there fast trains.

What more can we ask for? I especially like that he is going to let me pay for part of their cost. It's a wonderful thing to live in rural America and be able to help fund all the sorted programs for urban areas. I don't even like driving into a town of 30,000; I can really see myself hopping a train to go to New York or Boston...

By Expunged on 1/26/2011 7:03:31 PM , Rating: 2
Here here.... I've been paying fuel tax, a fleet of vehicle taxes, etc for years and the road to my house is still 13 miles of rarely maintained dirt that connects to another 20 miles of crumbling, pothole infested, chip seal over asphalt that hasn't seen any maintenance in 20 years. I'm happy to know I'm not the only one that is paying for part of the cost of urban sprawl. I've seen the same interchange re-engineered, rebuilt, and revamped at least 4 times in the last 20 years and each time it's worse than before. Luckily I stay as far away from the wreck called a metropolis as possible.

The states, counties and local municipalities have all given their power away in the name of big government. The state steps in and says "Let us collect your sales tax for you, you don't have to maintain a sales tax department and we'll just send you a check". Sounds great to the local city except they don't realize that when the state needs some money they dip right into those funds. The state turns around and does the same thing, giving power to the federal government and at some point the local government has no power left because they have no funding and no ability to control their destiny.

The federal government should do the bare minimum things, provide for a national defense, deal with interstate issues, etc. Let the local governments do whatever they want, if Boston wants a train system let Boston pay for it, if LA wants health care let the residents of LA vote on it and pay for it. If the state wants something it needs to go to the counties for the funding, the counties go to the people.

"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher

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