Don’t count on the election results to chasten President Obama, who in the wake of a resounding defeat for his ideas and policies is now moving towards what the Wall Street Journal today calls “another federal power grab over an innovative U.S. industry.”
President Obama has just asked the Federal Communications Commission to reclassify the internet, heretofore the driver of so much innovation and creativity, as a public utility. This will stifle creativity just as certainly as Obama policies have put a damper on other parts of the U.S. economy.
I’m not an expert on the internet but this snippet from Hot Air’s excellent post on this latest move towards what is called Net Neutrality sounds like a way to slow down providers from providing different levels of service:
The stated aim of this proposal is to prevent the formation of internet “fast lanes,” which would allow service providers to create pathways through which major services get priority access to bandwidth while smaller firms do not enjoy the same priority speeds.
Like everything this president does, this power grab is intensely political and aimed at a narrow group of Obama supporters:
Whether or not this is good policy is in question, but what is undeniable is that this push from the White House is a signal that they are focused on mollifying the president’s anxious progressive base even if it invites more conflict with the incoming Republican-dominated Congress.
President Obama began the process Monday when he told the FCC to use telephone regulations that are a hundred years old to govern the internet.
The Wall Street Journal explains:
These rules weren’t at the cutting edge of innovation even in the 1930s. As former FCC attorney Randolph May notes, this regulatory framework was written into the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 to oversee monopoly railroads. The Communications Act drafters then copied the 1887 law, replaced the references to railroads and clarified that the new regulations would apply to telephones as well as telegraphs. Eighty years later Mr. Obama has decided, in his market wisdom, that these rules should apply to the Internet.
When the FCC floated this idea in May, we called it “ObamaCare for the Web,” but that was too kind. The Obama Internet plan would treat cable, telephone and wireless broadband networks as common carriers subject to federal price controls and myriad other regulatory restrictions.
Like the telephone companies of old, broadband providers would be required to “file a tariff” at the commission, meaning they would submit mountains of paperwork and ask the government to approve the prices they intend to charge for services. The bureaucrats would then consider whether the prices are fair. FCC bureaucrats would also hold sway over plans to expand or build digital networks. Under such conditions, who would invest to build the next generation of broadband technologies?
President Obama believes in big government. He probably genuinely doesn’t see ObamaCare as an abject failure but as something he just hasn’t explained well enough.
And now he wants to use his last two years in office to do for the internet what he has done for the economy at large and healthcare.