Policy Update for April-June 2021

The following post was originally set as an email newsletter to our friends and supporters.


Re: Lincoln Policy Team Activities for Q2

Dear friend of Lincoln:

I’d like to share with you some of our team’s recent outputs, covering a range of issues from technology governance, to national security, to congressional modernization and the future of oversight.

Research

Does America need a new strategy for public diplomacy to promote liberal democratic values abroad? In a new white paper, Dan Lips argues that the United States should establish new international virtual learning programs to teach foreign students about U.S. history, government, and values and provide incentives for students to study these subjects. Click here to view and download the paper.

In the last few years, we have seen a dramatic negative shift in how policymakers and the public view the tech industry. In a new paper with the National Security Institute at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School, I do a deep dive into this phenomenon and its implications for the innovation ecosystem, national security, and the economy.

Letters & Testimony

In June, Dan Lips testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs – Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Spending Oversight. Dan also submitted testimony to the House Appropriations Committee – Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch.

I co-organized a bipartisan letter with Daniel Schuman to House appropriators making the case for increasing the Members Representational Allowance as well as committee funding to strengthen Article I capacity. This effort contributed to a significant step forward in the House appropriations bill, including a 21 percent increase for personal, committee, and leadership offices (read more about it here).

Dan Lips led a conservative letter urging an investigation of American tech firms’ business practices in China following a troubling investigative report by the New York Times. Dan also submitted questions on this issue ahead of a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on China and human rights.

Commentary

In an article for The American Conservative, I explain that interoperability and open protocols can solve many of the problems of centralized cyber power without a heavy regulatory hand. I write:

For policymakers, there are two broad strategies for approaching the issue. One is to punish, regulate, and control the tech companies—which may be difficult given the lack of agreement about the desired outcomes or even the problem. The other is to try to make the innovation ecosystem more open and competitive, empowering end users and weakening central authorities. 

Writing for The Dispatch, Dan Lips discusses the United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021, and the need to include provisions to secure American research institutions from foreign threats. He writes:

The Biden administration and congressional leaders have a unique opportunity to achieve bipartisan consensus by pairing historic federal investments in research and development with security measures to protect American innovations from nation-state espionage. But they must overcome resistance from American universities that are opposed to new reporting requirements and potential restrictions on foreign students studying in the United States.

Dan and I proposed a series of actionable recommendations (that are achievable through appropriations bill text or report language) to enhance the efficacy of STAA-GAO’s science and technology team. This include giving it an appropriations line item and Congressional Budget Justification, as well as clarifying authorities for hiring and acquisitions.

Dan also writes about Project Nickel, a first-of-its-kind search engine of U.S. public school per-student spending developed by Lincoln.

Other publications include:

The Realignment

Our recent guests have helped us understand the latest in the shifting landscapes of technology and policy. Niall Ferguson, author of Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, discussed why some societies fall apart while others rise in the face of “doom.” Brad Stone, Senior Executive Editor for Global Technology at Bloomberg News and author of Amazon Unbound: Jeff Bezos and the Invention of a Global Empire, explained the challenges, impact, and scope of Jeff Bezos and Amazon’s ambitions in cloud computing, streaming services, news media, retail, politics and more. Derek Thompson, staff writer at The Atlantic, discussed the Robinhood controversy, the effect of remote work on cities, and technology’s role in the disappearance of a shared American reality. Mara Hvistendahl, investigative reporter at The Intercept, discussed her book, The Scientist and the Spy, as well as U.S.-China relations under Obama, Trump, and Biden, industrial espionage, and the future of the FBI.

Thank you for listening, downloading, and rating the show. Catch up on recent episodes when you subscribe to The Realignment on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

We will also be hosting The Realignment Conference on Friday, October 22 in Miami. Space is very limited, and initial tickets are by invitation only. Speakers include Mayor Francis Suarez, Alberto Ibargüen, Antonio Garcia Martinez, Katherine Boyle, and more.

Policy Hackers

Policy Hackers is a year-long, non-resident fellowship program for aspiring tech professionals designed to work around the busy schedule of innovators and to teach them how to be effective policy advocates in their current role and equip them for long-term success working the policy space.

If you know of any exceptional individuals who may be good fits for the program, we would appreciate you sharing this opportunity with them. Applications for the 2021-2022 cohort are open from now until July 18, 2021. Learn more here.

Events

We invite you to join us in Miami on Wednesday, October 20 for an event featuring entrepreneur Peter Thiel, and also featuring Bambi Francisco Roizen, Saif Ishoof, Delian Asparouhov, Helen Andrews, and Marshall Kosloff.

In May, we hosted a virtual conference on the history and future of GAO on its 100th anniversary. This program looked back at the institutional development of GAO over the past century, and forward at the role the “government watchdog” will play in its next 100 years. You can watch the event here.

Leading up to the conference, we conducted a series of interviews on GAO, featuring speakers such as former Comptroller General David M. Walker, GAO chief data scientist Taka Ariga, Deloitte Analysts William Eggers and Steve Berman, and more.

In April, we co-hosted an event with American Purpose featuring Francis Fukuyama on technology and democracy. You can watch it here. Also in April, we hosted a policy conversation on Sec. 230 and online harms featuring Emma Llanso, Danielle Borrelli, and Alexandra Yelderman.

We also produced new episodes of the Lincoln Policy Podcast, featuring discussions on tech and China with AEI’s Klon Kitchen and also Stewart Baker, a conversation on R&D policy and the fate of the Endless Frontier Act, a discussion of Lincoln’s origin story with Aaron Ginn and Garrett Johnson, and more.

Final Thoughts

Thank you for taking the time to review this update. We value your encouragement and support, and welcome any additional feedback you’re willing to provide.

Sincerely,

Zach Graves
Head of Policy, Lincoln Network
zach.graves@joinlincoln.org

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Dan Lips
VP for National Security and Oversight
Garret Johnson Lincoln Executive Director
Garrett Johnson
Executive Director
Zach Graves
Head of Policy
Sean Roberts
Senior Advisor
J. Scott McKaig
CFO and General Counsel
Arthur Rizer
Senior Advisor
Grace Meyer
Head of Development
Marshall Kosloff
Director of Outreach and Media