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RELEASE: Rep. Khanna talks tech jobs across America with Prime Minister Tony Blair, Microsoft CEO Brad Smith at Web Summit

November 7, 2019
Press Release

Lisbon, Portugal – This week, Rep. Ro Khanna, member of the House Oversight Committee and Congressional Representative for Silicon Valley, participated in the 2019 Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal.

Rep. Khanna joined two of Web Summit’s robustly attended panels. The first, “None left behind: Making tech work for the many was a fireside chat in conversation with former Prime Minister Tony Blair. The second, “Rebuilding trust in tech” was a conversation with Microsoft CEO Brad Smith. Khanna had several individual conversations with speakers while there, including former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who touted his efforts and innovation.

Rep. Khanna has traveled across rural America discussing opportunities to bring technology jobs into communities left behind and mapping out a future for the global economy. Rep. Khanna, in early 2020, will introduce a bill that will establish a grant program to build up tech-related schooling opportunities in the middle America – legislating his vision of transition to innovation-based economies. His plan entails a multibillion-dollar investment inspired by Morrill Act of 1862. Khanna has traveled to several economically distressed cities in Kentucky, West Virginia, Michigan, Ohio, Iowa, North Carolina and South Carolina. There, Rep. Khanna has partnered with local lawmakers to bring Silicon Valley representatives to meet with local businesses and universities to help form partnerships.

“The reality is that technology has enriched our lives in so many ways. In enhancing communication, enhancing the promise of medicine, enhancing the possibility of information. And yet that innovation and wealth has been concentrated in a few areas. And people in Silicon Valley are increasingly aware that many have been left out in rural America, in minority communities…. Our country will fall apart if we don’t integrate and provide those opportunities to these places that have been left out. Put simply, no child should be forced to leave their hometown to get a good job.

How are we going to create new jobs given the technology revolution? What are we going to do to make sure there’s not geographic inequality? What are we going to do to have thoughtful regulations, so democracy is enhanced, not undermined, based on these new platforms? So, my view is that the central question of governance is how are we going to have thoughtful economic policy, thoughtful regulation, to deal with the technology revolution, and that’s sorely missing in Congress.

Our politics are either about the restoration of the past, or an embrace of the future. At a very simple level, Donald Trump is saying ‘let’s go back to the past, let’s go back to the way life used to be,’ and if you believe, as I do, in a multi-cultural democracy… you have to convince people that technology and the future is going to be a force for good in their lives, not a force of disruption. That to me is the central challenge for modern politics,” said Rep. Khanna.

“It’s a great pleasure to be with Ro as well, whose work I admire greatly. The people being left behind are the people who don’t understand how technology is changing the world, who feel that the force of globalization is passing them by. The big challenge… is how do you get the changemakers and the policymakers together.

Today, the question of technology should run throughout government. My view is you need to reorder politics around handling this technological revolution…. the problem today is that you’ve got a real world revolution in this room, and you’ve got politics in the other room, and the question is how you put that together.

Technology is more than about Big Tech. It’s about all those companies that are being created now, that are doing new things, that are innovating. We need that energy to be in the political room as well . . . a lot of the time these guys want to be as far away from government as possible, I understand that. But it’s necessary for the politicians to understand the world in order that they make the right policy. And this dislocation between the revolution that’s happening on the ground and the political debate is worrying and it’s dangerous,” said Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The full panel with Prime Minister Tony Blair can be viewed online here.

The full panel with Microsoft CEO Brad Smith can be viewed online here.




About the Office

Congressman Khanna represents the 17th District of California, which covers communities in Silicon Valley. Visit his website at Follow him on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @RepRoKhanna.