Romney calls for boost in high-skilled immigration


Major technology companies argue that they are struggling to find enough qualified American-born workers to fill open positions. Microsoft unveiled a proposal last month to increase the number of temporary H1B visas for high-skilled workers and the number of permanent-resident green cards for graduates with advanced degrees. 

The company also called for legislation to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to improve education in science, technology, engineering and math, fields collectively known as STEM.

Romney argued that America needs to improve its own education system to prepare students for the technology jobs of the future, but he did not promise any additional funding. Instead, he said he would make current federal funding contingent on merit pay for teachers and more parent choice.

"We must pursue genuine education reform that puts the interests of parents and students ahead of special interests and provides a chance for every child. I will take the unprecedented step of tying federal funds directly to dramatic reforms that expand parental choice, invest in innovation, and reward teachers for their results instead of their tenure. I will also ensure that students have diverse and affordable options for higher education to give them the skills they need to succeed after graduation," he wrote.

Romney criticized President Obama's "misguided attempts to play the role of venture capitalist," claiming the administration has wasted billions of dollars, but he argued that smart investments in research and advanced technology are still important.

"As president, I will focus government resources on research programs that advance the development of knowledge, and on technologies with widespread application and potential to serve as the foundation for private sector innovation and commercialization," he wrote.

Romney promised to expand international trade but also crack down on countries like China that steal American intellectual property. He said he would reduce the power of federal regulators and require that all major regulations receive congressional approval.

In his own letter to the NY Tech Meetup, Obama touted his creation of a U.S. chief technology officer and initiatives to expand access to government data. 

He said a patent reform law he signed will "help American entrepreneurs bring inventions to market sooner, leading to new businesses, jobs and industries." He promised to defend the openness of the Internet while also protecting intellectual property rights.

Obama argued that government investments are critical to future economic success, and said he would recruit 100,000 new math and science teachers over the next 10 years and train 2 million workers for careers in health care and technology.

"As a nation, we can’t simply cut our way to prosperity or fall back to the top-down, trickle-down economics that benefits the few, but guts investments in our country's future that grow our economy — and your startups," he wrote. "But that’s the choice in this election between two fundamentally different paths for our country, between moving forward and falling back."