Monday, November 10, 2014

Takes two to dance

Today President Obama came out in favor of net neutrality rules that treat internet service providers as utilities.
Mr. Obama in a public statement asked the FCC on Monday to prohibit so-called "paid prioritization," which open the door for Internet providers like Comcast and Verizon to charge tech companies to send content to consumers more quickly.

If the Federal Communications Commission approves Obama's recommendations, the Internet would be regulated like other utilities such as electricity, water and telephone service.

The president said "an entrepreneur's fledgling company should have the same chance to succeed as established corporations, and...access to a high school student's blog shouldn't be unfairly slowed down to make way for advertisers with more money."
Here is a cartoon that helps explain what the President is talking about.

So, on the surface, it seems reassuring that Obama would (finally) take this public stance on the issue.  On the other hand, though, it's important to consider the timing. 

This is the first issue Obama wants to talk about on Monday morning one week after a so-called "wave" election has handed control of the next congress and all of the political momentum over to the GOP.  Typically this would mean Republicans are going to win the next several fights he gets into with them.  So it's reasonable to assume the President is moving to the front of the agenda those issues he actually cares least about but doesn't want to be held responsible for not defending. 

In other words, he's saying, "Hey guys, please steamroll me over this issue."   And, sure enough, here they come to do it.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Monday compared net neutrality to Obamacare shortly after President Obama expressed support for net neutrality.
It takes two sides to do this dance but, in a way, everybody wins. Well... we don't win. We still lose the internet as we knew it. But "both sides" of our political oligachy win anyway. And that's what really matters. 

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