Bush espouses business-friendly view on technology

(see story). Should Microsoft win its appeal, now before a federal appellate court, the Bush administration is seen as less likely to make its own appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The first vacancy on the five-member Federal Trade Commission isn't expected to open until next September, when Chairman Robert Pitofsky's term expires. But Bush is expected to name one of the current Republican FTC commissioners, Orson Swindle or Thomas Leary, to replace Pitofsky as interim chairman. Timothy Muris, a law professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., has been mentioned as a candidate for the FTC chairmanship, but could also be chosen to head the Office of Management and Budget.

Former Federal Reserve governor Lawrence Lindsey, a top Bush adviser, is on short lists for either a senior White House economic post, Treasury secretary, or eventual successor to Alan Greenspan as chairman of the Federal Reserve. Gov. Frank Keating (R-Okla.), is a favorite to become the next U.S. attorney general.

Bush has espoused business-friendly views on technology issues such as online privacy and e-commerce retail sales tax collection. In the words of one senior adviser, Bush "respects the power of the marketplace" and is "very reluctant to be prematurely intrusive in high-technology areas."

As a candidate, Bush swore an ambiguous fealty to personal privacy and ducked the question of whether a new broad-based Internet privacy law is needed. He also supports an extension of the current moratorium on e-commerce sales taxes. Gov. Jim Gilmore (R-Va.), who headed a blue-ribbon e-commerce tax panel last year, is mentioned as a possibility for Commerce secretary, along with Bush campaign Chairman Don Evans.

Bush will govern in tandem with a Congress that's almost evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, and is still smarting from the inflamed political rhetoric that's been swirling in the capital since Nov. 7. Most of the legislative cards are held by shifting coalitions of moderate Republicans and center-right "New Democrats," who are pro-business and pro-technology. Both major parties are already concentrating on the 2002 mid-term elections, and because Congress will be up for grabs, partisan policy gridlock on issues such as Medicare, Social Security and education could be hard to avoid.

"If there's a place to begin the healing, technology could be the vehicle," says Electronic Industries Alliance president Dave McCurdy.

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