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Obama Hails U.S. Stimulus Effort Overseas

High-tech interests continue to push for aid back home, with energy, broadband, and IT health care programs expected to benefit.
As President Obama strived to open another stimulus front at the Group of 20 summit meeting in Europe this week, elected officials and companies waited patiently for hints of recovery.

Obama took time out of his NATO visit Friday to stage a town-hall style meeting with a group of mostly students in Strasbourg, France. Obama will meet with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel over the weekend.

Back home, Congress, various government agencies, and industries including high-tech businesses worked to accelerate efforts to stimulate the sagging American economy.

"How well we execute the respective stimulus programs around the world is going to be very important," the president said at a press conference in the United Kingdom. "The quicker they are, the more effective they are at actually boosting demand, the more all of us will benefit. The more encumbered they are by bureaucracy and mismanagement and corruption that will hamper our development efforts as a whole."

In Europe, the Group of 20 endorsed a plan to commit $1.1 trillion to combat the worldwide economic crisis while in the U.S. the House and the Senate endorsed a $3.5 trillion spending plan. Both houses of Congress must now work out compromises on the differences between their respective plans.

The U.S. spending plans include efforts to stimulate various high-tech programs, some of which have been negatively impacted by the economic crisis in the United States.

"I don't see the Group of 20 plan having much impact" on U.S. high-tech spending, said Deniece Peterson, principal analyst at Input, in an interview Friday. "But in the U.S. it's full speed ahead by both companies and government."

Peterson noted that stimulus efforts must first be implemented by government bodies while many high-tech companies already are making arrangements to seek stimulus funding; many contractors are still deciding whether to seek stimulus funding.

Input, which specializes in government market research, has established a "Stimulus Suite" Web portal that features reports and information on the unfolding government stimulus programs, Peterson noted. The "big-ticket high-tech" areas covered are aimed at energy, broadband, and IT health care programs. She observed that most assistance for IT health care and broadband is likely to go primarily to state and local interests.

For example, the White House has set aside $21 billion for health IT programs with the goal of having most Americans with an e-health record by 2014. In the first year of the administration's incentives, hospitals can receive up to $1.5 million for effectively using these systems, while doctor practices eventually can earn around $40,000. The Business Roundtable estimates that a $10 billion investment in health IT as part of the stimulus plan could create 200,000 new jobs.

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