Branko Radulovacki, MD (D)

Q1: Name:

Branko Radulovacki, MD (aka Dr. Rad)

Q2: Currently in Georgia, and around the Nation, there is a shortage of talent to fill open technology positions. TAG feels part of this issue is due to current H1B Visa policies that hinder highly educated foreign students from staying within the United States to work. What is your position on H1B Visas as well as border protection and illegal immigration? Would you be willing to address the H1B visa issue as a standalone issue in congress?

Although I agree with TAG that one cause of the shortage of talent to fill open technology positions is related to H1B visa constraints, I believe the much greater issues are the lack of quality STEM education in the U.S. and the profit-driven desire for cheap(er) foreign labor. I do not believe H1B visas policies should be modified in order to undercut American workers or their pay. But, I believe that unless and until we address the STEM education shortfall among American students, technology employers will continue to need to hire highly-educated foreign students -- and we must ensure that desireable workers are available. These issues are intertwined with border protection and illegal immigration because of the way the current Congress has elected to write immigration reform legislation. Given that the bipartisan Senate bill has stalled completely in the House, I would be willing to address the H1B visa issue as a standalone -- or preferably, as part of an education reform bill.

Q3: Ensuring students have a 21st century digital infrastructure with access to broadband internet, and fourth generation (4G) wireless networks has become a critical issue nationally. How do you feel congress can address this access issue? Do you feel the federal and state government can work together to bring access to Georgia’s students?

I believe Congress can and should make broadband internet and 4G wireless network access an education-related priority. Shrinking public education budgets combined with expanded opportunities for online learning make this a 21st century mandate. As Congress formulates broader education bills that address deficiencies in our nation's current educational standards & outcomes, we must set expectations that will guide the FCC's efforts. I believe federal and state governments can and will have to work together to bring this access to Georgia's students because the Communications Act of 1934 (amended in 1996) mandates FCC jurisdiction over interstate communications while state public utilities commissions regulate intrastate efforts.

Q4: Cybersecurity has become an issue not only for consumers (i.e. Target’s recent data breach) but also for small and medium sized companies. Do you feel there should be a blanket approach to setting regulations regarding cybersecurity? Should companies be held accountable for the information they lose? How can our government assist in protecting consumers and business owners from these types of security breaches?

I doubt that there is a one-size-fits-all solution to cybersecurity issues, which I expect will worsen rather than improve in the years to come. I do, however, believe that companies must be accountable to those individuals whose personal information is compromised. Our government can assist in protecting consumers and business owners from these types of security breaches by sharing both information and technologies which enable companies to better-protect the information with which they've been entrusted.

Q5: STEM education has become an important part of Georgia schools and is crucial in filling US jobs. As a nation, the United States has dropped in the STEM rankings among other nations. How can we better prepare STEM students for the 21st century work force? How can congress assist schools in the implementation of STEM? What ideas do you have to make STEM a priority nationally?

I believe we not only can but must prepare students with the STEM education necessary to succeed and thrive in the 21st century economy. To do so, we must reverse declines in math and science literacy by investing more classroom time in STEM education, by identifying and rewarding many more high-quality STEM educators, and by expanding educational partnerships with STEM employers. As a member of Congress who has graduate degrees in both economics and medicine, I will be a strong proponent of STEM education as the key to both professional and financial freedom. The President's FY15 budget maintains its emphasis on STEM education, and I wholeheartedly support it. But, Congress can do more. We must set educational standards that put our nation's STEM skills on par with other nations'. We must also circumvent state-level resistance to federal standards and educational "mandates" (like Common Core) by educating citizens about the evolving job market and the need for 21st century skills.

Q6: The House of Representatives passed a bill addressing patent reform (The Innovation Act HB3309, which was overwhelmingly bipartisan with a 325 yea-vote and 91 no-vote count), and the issue of patent trolling. Currently, the bill resides in the Senate. If this legislation is not passed during 2014, what steps will you take to insure this legislation continues to move through the process?

I would take no steps until fully informed of the pros and cons of this bill. As I currently understand it, HB3309 provides relief for those facing frivolous lawsuits related to patent infringement. On the surface, that is a worthy objective. However, opponents in the House expressed concern that the bill would harm small inventors trying to defend patents from larger companies with significantly greater financial resources. There was also concern about the need for better consumer protections and fewer "non-inventive" patent approvals. I consider those legitimate concerns -- but not sufficient to kill the bill. I would work with my Senate colleagues to build consensus for an alternative version to stem growth of the patent troll business model while also addressing the weaknesses in the House version.

Q7: What ways do you feel our government and, you specifically, can encourage entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurial spirit in America? President Obama stated “We should be making it easier and faster to turn new ideas into new jobs and new businesses. And we should knock down any barriers that stand in the way. Because if we’re going to create jobs now and in the future, we’re going to have to out-build and out-educate and out-innovate every other country on Earth.” After reading this statement, what reactions do you have to his ideas on assisting entrepreneurs?

I share the President's enthusiasm! The devil is in the details. To out-educate, we cannot simply know that STEM education should be a priority; we must make it one. We must equip educators with the resources and training to make classrooms places of challenge and adventure. We must set expectations high and reward both the teachers and the students who exceed them. And, we should expand public-private STEM partnerships that encourage future employers to invest time and resources in their future workforce. To out-build and out-innovate, we must connect people with ideas to resources -- efficiently and effectively. We must incentivize risk-taking, and insure that a lack of financing does not hinder entrepreneurial growth. This means pursuing legislative changes that allow crowdfunding, stock auctions (vs. IPOs), FDIC authority to make local level judgment calls on lending, and longer-term venture funds. By developing a generation of innovative thinkers and providing them with the resources to pursue their dreams, we can pave the way to new jobs and new businesses "easier and faster... than every other country on Earth."

Q8: If elected, how will you work to balance our nation’s budget? Will you support innovation and technology within the budget?

Our country has no money to waste. I will be a good steward of our resources and insist on a responsible, balanced budget. But I will not balance our nation's budget on the backs of our most vulnerable: children, the elderly, the disabled or mentally ill. I will protect the funding for social safety net programs. Instead, I will aggressively pursue tax reforms that close corporate loopholes and level the playing field by requiring all American workers, employers and CEOs to pay their fair share. I will support innovation and technology in the budget because they are the foundation of our economic future. They will enable us to build a growing and sustainably healthy economy for the long term.

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