Obama-appointed FCC chairman distances himself from Obama on so-called ‘net neutrality’

“Hours after President Obama called for the Federal Communications Commission to pass tougher regulations on high-speed Internet providers, the agency’s Democratic Chairman Tom Wheeler told a group of business executives that he was moving in a different direction,” Brian Fung and Nancy Scola report for The Washington Post. “Huddled in an FCC conference room Monday with officials from major Web companies, including Google, Yahoo and Etsy, agency Chairman Tom Wheeler said he has preferred a more nuanced solution.”

“White House aides had wrestled over whether Obama should publicly prod the FCC to adopt the strongest rules possible on the ‘net neutrality’ issue. Ultimately, aides felt that a public stance would galvanize allies in Congress as well as young, tech-savvy progressives, a key part of the Democratic base, according to several people familiar with the matter. The decision to speak out also comes as Democrats are aggressively courting Silicon Valley in preparation for the 2016 campaigns,” Fung and Scola report. “But the move by the White House has put Wheeler in an uncomfortable spotlight. The two men have long been allies. Wheeler raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Obama’s campaign and advised the president on his transition into the White House. Obama last year appointed Wheeler to lead the FCC as it was poised to tackle its biggest issue in years — the rules that govern content on the Web.”

“The aides saw a political upside to a strong statement. A key contingent of the president’s base — young, tech-savvy progressives — would be energized by the action, and a strong statement on net neutrality could also help his relationship with congressional Democrats, according to government and industry officials… ‘I see him almost salivating over a congressional fight, or a fight with the carriers, over this issue,” said the aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk on the record. “This is a populist issue he thinks he can win on,'” Fung and Scola report. “Wheeler worries that the president’s more drastic approach is too simplistic, according to people familiar with his thinking. With his long experience in the telecommunications industry, Wheeler is well aware of concerns that ill-considered regulations could stifle innovation and slow the growth of the country’s broadband infrastructure, those people said. And he worries that the White House is being naive about the ripple effects of changing how a major piece of national infrastructure is governed.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]

Related articles:
What does so-called ‘net neutrality’ mean for Apple? – November 12, 2014
AT&T to pause fiber investment until net neutrality rules are decided – November 12, 2014
U.S. FCC plays Russian Roulette with so-called ‘net neutrality’ – November 11, 2014
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner: Republicans will continue efforts to stop misguided scheme to regulate the Internet – November 10, 2014
Tech Freedom: Obama cynically exploits confusion over Title II, misses opportunity to lead on legislative deal – November 10, 2014
Obama want FCC to regulate the Internet; Cruz calls it ‘Obamacare for the Internet’ – November 10, 2014

61 Comments

  1. Simplistic and naive. True, but that barely scratches the narcissistic surface of the debacle that is the presidency of the hapless neophyte Barack Hussein Obama.

    American made a big mistake. Then repeated it for good measure.

    Character counts and experience matters.

    1. All politicians are liars, thieves, and narcissists. You have to be to win any major election. It doesn’t matter if we out a Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal in the white house. Grandstanding will always be the name of the game.

      Americans didn’t repeat their mistake. They chose the lesser of two evils like they do in every election, and like we’ll continue to do in elections to come until money is divorced from politics, which honestly seems a pie in the sky idea at this point. I fear for the future of our once great nation, and installing a Republican into office at the highest levels won’t fix that any more than another Democrats will…

      1. No, I supported Mitt Romney because his management and government experience best qualified him to address the nation’s problems. His opponent was demonstrably lacking in those qualifications.

        Romney lost because he has a character that doesn’t fit the game of politics very well. He allowed the opposition to spread lies and to demonize him, but couldn’t bring himself to respond in kind.

        It’s a shame that victory can go to the side that plays dirtiest. The nation suffers when that happens.

        1. There is no party better and more prolific at spreading lies and FUD than the GOP. Science does not matter. Fact does not matter. You just have to repeat it enough times and feel it in your gut for it to be true.

      2. That’s right, montex, because in Fwhatever’s world you are only rich (and white) if you “earned” it. Anyone who does not have much money is worthless and failed to work hard enough. Oh yeah, and they are seeking to take all of the hard-earned wealth of the “job creators.”

        The world is not that simple, Fwhatever. Your belief set is far too narrow and flawed to be valid.

    2. Obama took a badly broken country and made it strong again. What more do you want?

      The country was in bankruptcy — financially and morally. The administration had violated the country’s foundational principles, wasted trillions of dollars, pushed away its oldest allies and truest friends. Unemployment was up and morale was down. The economy was in free-fall. America was a shadow of itself at the end of the Bush era.

      America is back, and it’s strong.
      And we want the losers who broke it back in the driver’s seat?

    3. America should adopt good practice from other Countries. In the UK, the telco offers you a menu of bandwidths and the price for each. You then choose what you can afford and regulate yourself to your choice because if you go over, you pay extra as per outlined package but if you go over the minimum over limit, you pay the full whack to the next bandwidth. If you keep going over your limit, you get an email encouraging you to take up the next package up so that you do not keep paying penalties. Conversely, you get an email for each package if you exceed seventy percent of usage to warn you that you are about to go over. If you pay for unlimited bandwidth, then none of the above matters.
      The fairness of this method is that everyone has the opportunity to access the internet. Those who cannot afford even the lowest package can get free access through the local library.
      Government should not have to intervene unless the telco with the largest ownership of the cable system is abusing its position by overcharging companies that rent cable usage from them. Anyone can set up a telco by leasing a portion of the cable network and reselling a particular service they think will make them a living to the public or business.
      Whilst no system built by man can ever be perfect. That should not stop us from striving for perfection. (Government) Handsfree or not.
      The Crabapple has spoken!

  2. Yup. Heaven forbid that some politician should miss a chance to suck up to major corporations to guarantee themselves a job afterwards.

    A massive collection of shit heels are now against net neutrality because Obama is for it. That’s pretty much all that is going on here.

    1. No. No even close. What’s going on here is:
      1. Obama got his ass kicked in historic fashion. Twice.
      2. Obama is desperate for issues that can drive a wedge between himself and Republicans (see: illegal immigrants and “net neutrality” – he’ll come up with more as he goes down in flames).
      3. Obama is preying on simpletons susceptible to populist political ploys to swallow the bait. Congrats, you took it hook, line, and sinker.
      4. Obama has no power. He is a lame duck. He can quack until the cows come home, but it’s all he’s got left and it’s meaningless.
      5. Even his appointees and former backers now clearly realize he’s a naive empty suit unprepared for the position to which the stupid and the indolent elected him.
      6. Obama would go down in history as one of the worst presidents ever, but since he’s the “first black president” he will live out the rest of his days being wined and dined in the liberal enclaves that this fine country harbors like the supercilious parasites they are.
      7. You have no idea what so-called “net neutrality” is. Nobody does, because it hasn’t been defined by the rulemakers. If it ever even is defined, you won’t recognize it compared to the fantasy you’ve concocted as “net neutrality” in your empty little head.
      8. I am so much smarter than you, it’s actually painful for me to demonstrate and for others to witness.

      1. The Democrats and liberal minded independents stayed home- the turnout in 2010 and 2014 were among the lowest in modern history and the results was as expected.

        Obama is a Republican and has largely ruled as one regardless of the noise on Right Wing Radio. Look at the recent article in the American Conservative titled Obama is a Republican. It is very true. He is what most Republicans were like before the NeoCon strain took over.

        In 2016 the Republicans will be defending something like 24 Senate seats and many of them in states that voted for Obama in 20008 and 2012. I would not drink my own Kool Aid if I were you.

        The Congress the next 2 years will have to deal with Obama and then they will probably lose the Senate back to the Democrats and the House margin will undoubtedly thin- only Gerrymandering keeps the House in Republican hands.

        I am not a Democrat and did not vote for Obama either time, but what you are pushing is complete right wing Kool Aid. The Republicans will overreach- as they always do- and get slapped by the voters next time.

        1. @Darwin Evolved you are so right about President Obama. He is a Republican and a Corporatist. It’s not called the BushObama Administration for no reason. The other thing is that the idiots in this forum crowing aboit the Republicans fail to mention that they can’t win unless people don’t vote. 37 percent of eligible voters is not a mandate, it is an indictment.

          1. Gallup, Nov. 6-9: Democratic Party Favorable Rating Falls to Record Low

            After the midterm elections that saw the Democratic Party suffer significant losses in Congress, a record-low 36% of Americans say they have a favorable opinion of the party, down six percentage points from before the elections. The Republican Party’s favorable rating is 42%.

            These results come from a Nov. 6-9 Gallup poll, conducted after Republicans enjoyed a breathtaking sweep of important contests throughout the country in this year’s midterms. The party gained control of the Senate and will likely capture its largest House majority in nearly a century. Additionally, the GOP now controls 31 governorships and two-thirds of state legislative chambers.

            Across party groups, the Republican Party’s image held steady from Gallup’s last update in September. But support for the Democratic Party dropped among independents and among Democrats themselves. Currently, 81% of self-identified Democrats have a favorable view of their party, down from 88% in September and 95% shortly after the 2012 election. Independents’ ratings of the Democratic Party, at 25%, are down 10 points from September.

            The Democrats appear to have the more battered image. Their favorability rating has never been lower, and they are reeling from defeats that cost them control of the U.S. Senate and strengthened the Republican House majority to levels likely not seen in 90 years.

            Republicans in Congress enjoy a 42% approval rating. Obama, on the other hand, sits at a miserable 39% approval rating. His disapproval rating sits at a whopping 56%. When asked by Gallup who should have more influence over the direction of the country, a majority of Americans chose Republicans in Congress over Obama by a whopping 56-36% margin.

            Source: Gallup

            1. This article tells me that all of Congress is in the dumps. It is not something the Republicans should be proud of, You’re grasping at straws. Then again, what else do you have to hold on too.

            2. Unfortunately, when you look at the methodology, I would be hard pressed to take the results unilaterally.

              “Gallup Daily tracking is divided into two surveys: Gallup U.S. Daily and the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Gallup interviews 500 U.S. adults for each survey, 350 days per year with minimum quotas of 50% landlines and 50% cellphones. These large samples allow Gallup to examine extensive demographic breaks and unique cross-tabulations of the daily measures. The samples also allow Gallup to report results at state and community levels.”

              Very important, one must question the disparity amongst individuals most likely to be contacted re income, race, education and region. And I question the ability to do so, particularly, for the majority that don’t get to answer their landlines, if any, and the makeup of the wireless community who, in most cases, never ever get or accept a query on the cell phone or browser.

              And equally important, how do we cull out or disregard the 60%+ eligible voters who don’t speak out or exercise their given rights? Are we to simply ignore them?

              P.S. I have to admit that for the people of country that created the first written constitution, and the rights it provided, would have so many be so adamant about limiting those of others in world, as well as, their own.

      2. No. No even close. What’s going on here is:
        1. The GOP candidates got their asses kicked in historic fashion. Twice. The American public clearly stated its displeasure with the way the GOP gridlocked the government. Neither party is worthy of much respect right now, and neither party can claim “historic victory” under such sorry circumstances. These things go in cycles. History,indicates that your “victory” will be short-lived.
        2. The GOP has long showed its desperation to focus public attention on topics that avoided its many weaknesses with respect to women, immigrants, the working poor, etc., and the GOP has no peer when it comes to attempting to drive wedges in between its opponents and their supporters.
        3. You and your ilk are preying on simpletons by your labeling and name-calling. You refuse to seriously consider any other opinions and regularly shower anyone who disagrees with you with utter disdain.
        4. You have no power. Obama maybe a lame duck because of term limits, but he still wields considerable power. One “quack” from Obama has far more influence than all of your incessant ranting.
        5. You are taking one instance of a disagreement with an appointee and exaggerrating it into a mountain. I think that it is good that Wheeler spoke up. He is doing his job. Bush surrounded himself with Yes people and the results of that circle jerk were historically disastrous.
        6. Let history decide where Obama rates among Presidents. You are certainly not qualified to pass summary judgment. I suspect that the GOP owns most of the “enclaves” in which wining and dining takes place on a regular basis as those politicians sell our country to the highest bidder.
        7. “You have no idea what so-called “net neutrality” is. Nobody does, because it hasn’t been defined by the rulemakers.” You said it, Fwhatever, and you are one of those nobodies.
        8. You are so full of yourself, Fwhatever. It is truly sickening to behold.

  3. Is anybody else amused how MDN was vocally pro-net neutrality for years, until the president advocated it, and now they’re backing off because it doesn’t show adequate worshipfulness of the Invisible Hand? Just google “MDN Take” and “Net Neutrality” and you can see them damning the cable companies’ monopoly power and its competition crushing effect on a free unencumbered Internet.

    To paraphrase Jefferson, Paine, Lincoln, and others, “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. This principle applies equally to free markets and to free society.”

    And the invisible hand only applies in a frictionless free market. The invisible hand wouldn’t touch a monopoly cable market with a ten-foot pole.

    1. You lie. So, no, nobody’s amused.

      And, there’s no need to “google” anything. Just search MacDailyNews’ site:

      JUNE 9, 2006. Well before the world was ever unlucky enough to have even heard of the empty-suited Barack Hussein Obama:

      Opposing Net Neutrality

      MacDailyNews Take: We don’t presume to know the best way to get there, but we support the concept of “Net Neutrality” especially as it pertains to preventing the idea of ISP’s blocking or otherwise impeding sites that don’t pay the ISP to ensure equal access. That said, we usually prefer the government to be hands-off wherever possible, Laissez-faire, except in cases where the free market obviously cannot adequately self-regulate (antitrust, for example). Regulations are static and the marketplace is fluid, so such regulation can often have unintended, unforeseen results down the road. We sincerely hope that there are enough forces in place and/or that the balances adjust in such a manner as to keep the ‘Net as neutral as it is today.

      Compare to NOVEMBER 10, 2014. Eight years and five months later:

      Obama wants FCC to regulate the Internet; Cruz calls it ‘Obamacare for the Internet’

      MacDailyNews Take: This genie is already long out of the bottle. There is no such thing as pure “net neutrality” as proponents imagine it. What is “Net Neutrality,” exactly? Don’t bother – there are a million different definitions. You back “Net Neutrality?” Great. Do you back the Easter Bunny, too?

      Beware: Government meddling often produces unintended consequences and those advocating the strongest for government control have often war-gamed said consequences and likely stand to benefit from one or more of the potential outcomes.

      This is a case of putting the cart before the horse. Let the market go where it goes and keep a close eye on it. If and when there is actual cause for increased regulation, then move deliberately but with a consensus and, above all, extreme caution lest there be unintended consequences which could actually end up retarding progress rather than fostering it.

      “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” — Bert Lance

      MacDailyNews has been perfectly consistent throughout.

          1. Look in the 2012 and 2013 stories FactChecker. There are few of MDN’s take where they strongly want net neutrality. They even put in links to where you could sign petitions to have net neutrality.

            1. Provide links with MDN’s exact quotes or STFU and, while you’re at it, define “net neutrality.” Hint: You can’t.

              MDN has already said they’re for at least one of the millions of definitions of so-called “net neutrality.” So, the point remains the same: “Sum Jung Gai” is a liar.

  4. Only a fool would think that regulating the internet in a similar fashion to the telephone industry 50 years ago will produce good results.

    With that being said, what is needed, from my viewpoint, is a guarantee that websites will not be blocked or their access slowed whether by government or the internet companies. However, people who use more bandwidth should pay more.

    This seems so simple, why is it so difficult? Oh yeah, because government is involved.

    1. You don’t get it. It’s not a matter of how much data you suck down the pipe, it’s all about what *kind* of data and where you get it from. That’s why the ISPs want nothing to do with NN. They want to be able to charge based upon the type of data (video for example) and where you get it (Netflix for example). They want Netflix and their ilk to pay more (and, consequently, end up costing you more.

      1. Netflix should pay more. They are negatively impacting the Internet for everyone else.

        Netflix streams video for a monthly subscription and ends up taking 40% of peak Internet traffic.

        Does said bandwidth hog just get to use 40% of peak Internet traffic or should they – duh – pay extra to those who built and own the systems that delivers the bits upon which they profit?

        What if Netflix decides to stream 4K video? Do they simply get to take 90% of peak Internet traffic to do so, for no extra charge upon which, again, they profit?

        Do you understand how capitalism, even at its most basic level, works?

        1. No, Netflix should not pay more. They should pay for the bits they use (send). A bit is a bit is a bit is a bit. Netflix should not pay more because of the type of bits it sends or because of who they are. They should pay for their data usage (both uploads and downloads) just like everyone else. The telcos and ISPs should not be able to ‘customize’ the fees based upon what kind of data is being transmitted or who sends it. That would be anti-competitive behavior. This what is meant by ‘neutrality’. No special treatment. No special punishment. Net neutrality is not that hard to understand. Those who are trying to make it confusing are doing so for their own agenda.

          1. What’s more important, Netflix streaming “Ishtar” to the bumpkins or a surgeon using telemetry during surgery on the other side of the continent? Both bitstreams are not equal.

            1. You are assuming that the internet is a “series of pipes.” It isn’t. We have never had our services compromised during heavy sessions in the evening at any hospital or clinical office. This assumption that the whole city is using the internet, therefore I cannot get through, went away when we changed from hubs to switches. Additionally, much of the suggestion of “pipes” is centered around a Serial Circuit where everyone is using the same conduit. It isn’t. It’s more parallel. There is absolutely no need to charge more for it, since it is not a pipe.

        2. I would probably see your point…but then I remember that our ISP’s still keep us in the 25Mb/s to 50Mb/s download speed. There are tons of places on earth that quadruple that. We could have had 1Gb/s internet 5 years ago….but they didn’t care to give us that. They built the infrastructure and they want to milk it for as long as they can. If google never introduced their 1Gb fiber…I wonder if at&t’s new fiber would have even showed up? So…before they ask for more money…give us better download and upload speeds. If your gonna ask for more cash…at least show us better shit!

          1. If you keep paying them, why should they?

            That’s not how capitalism works. When enough people stop paying them they either improve or die. If nobody stops paying them, they simply continue to maintain and collect the cash. The gubmint isn’t your mommy. She’s not going to force private companies to string billions of dollars worth of fiber. Ain’t gonna happen.

        3. See, that’s just it. Netflix already pays more. The agreements NetFlix has been striking allow them to place their entire library on a server located in the edge provider’s facility. Essentially collocation. They pay the provider more for this privilege. Not only does this deliver Netflix content to the provider’s customers more efficiently, it keeps Netflix traffic from clogging up the greater Intermet. Simplistic Net Neutrality rules coud screw this kind of effort up. We don’t want that.

          Netflix and providers have reached this agreement on their own without the government being involved. for this kind of innovation to continue, we need the government to remain hands off, and if anything craft a list of extremely specific Net Neutrality rules that govern ISPS behavior and not technology decisions such as this.

  5. Tom Wheeler
    Worked at National Cable & Telecommunications Association 1976-1984, President from 1979.
    From 1992-2004 he was CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association.

    Otherwise a former lobbyist for the cable and Cell Industries- so of course Obama appoints him Chair of the FCC.

    Obama’s blathering is for cover- he appointed Wheeler and knows exactly where he stands- with the TelCos and Cable Cartel.

    1. I agree: Obama is covering his ass by making a show of this before Wheeler does what he was put in office to do. He appointed the corporate crony, he knows Net Neutrality is dead, but he has to come out supporting it to save face for himself and the Democrats. Meaningless political posturing.

  6. So I take it that you guys are mostly against net neutrality. You are therefore on the side of companies like Time Warner, etc, who believe that those who want faster speeds should pay more. Am I right? Shame on the President for trying to be fair to all! You cannot do that Mr President, it is unAmerican!

  7. Which is worse? The US gov’t regulations that may stifle growth in an industry that is already struggling to keep up with bandwidth demand. OR. Letting the Internet infrastructure companies operate freely and combine into semi-monopolies with resulting greater investment in infrastructure along with higher consumer costs.

    It’s a complex issue, and neither scenario sounds attractive to me. I don’t believe the gov’t has the tech know how to draft clear regulations that would be effective. I also believe that an unregulated Internet would be a disaster to the consumer, with Internet pricing being along the lines of oil pricing.

    I do know that politicians on both sides will drive fear into the issue for their own party gain, and in the end will accomplish next to nothing beneficial to us. The best I can hope for is that the major issues get resolved in the system we have. Although it’s not perfect, it is serving a huge percentage of the high bandwidth consumers of the world, and not doing that badly considering how fast the demand is rising. Sure everyone wants more bandwidth cheaper, but why ruin something that has actually run itself pretty well. Not sure we need help from either side.

  8. The fact that the US today is the most powerful, prosperous and free nation on earth with more millionaires and billionaire then all countries combined only proves that government, our government does work; though not perfect.

    It was the fed govt. that ended slavery, child labor and passed laws and regulation that created a political and economic system that allowed businesses to furnish and make the US what it is today. Not the free market.

    A place where a black man can be president and people have the freedom and right to accuse him of being satin, for things he never did while ignoring those that were responsible.

    America

    1. I think you are saying that the US form of government has signal achievements, despite the calumny and abuse heaped upon it by blatantly self-centred partisans who have benefited from the selfsame system yet perversely decline to properly acknowledge it.

      1. Again, if not for our govt. we would have what we have today, America would not be what it is today. If it had been left to the free market we would still be stuck in the 19th century with all its trappings.

    2. bjr001, the fact that a black man could be elected President (twice!) is what botty and firsty hate about the United States of America. To them, a black man winning fair and square (twice!) is impossible and so it must have been a stolen election or he’s not a citizen or he got a C on his Algebra test or other such nonsense. They would be funny and worth laughing at if they didn’t work so hard to poison the discussion on a website that should be about computers and phones.

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