The hard-Left publication The Nation and their allies advocated for the FCC’s “Net Neutrality” passage to regulate and tax the Internet as “People Power“. But in politics, it is always best to “follow the money.” For 2014, lobbying expenditures by computer/Internet companies hit $139.5 million. The Left likes to talk about “People Power”, but Silicon Valley lobbying cash is “Corporate Power.”
When FCC Chair Michael Powell, son of former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and the four other FCC Commissioners chose to classify the Internet as an “information service” in 2002, rather than a “telecommunications service,” the move was cheered for preventing the doubling of the billions in taxes charged each month for landline phones.
Despite virtually no Internet user complaints, the Left’s consumer, civil rights, media reform groups (Consumers Union, Color of Change, Demand Progress, CREDO Action, the Future of Music Coalition and Free Press, among others) had spent years advocating the regulation of high-speed Internet service as the “the First Amendment of the Internet.”
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler under the Obama Administration initially resisted regulating broadband providers as telecommunication common carriers under Title II of the Federal Communications Act of 1934. But “after the November election, the man who appointed Wheeler to the FCC intervened on behalf of the right response” according to Seeking Alpha’s Dana Blankenhorn.”
Less than a week after his Party was crushed in the 2014 election, President Obama hendorsed utility-style regulation as “Net Neutrality.” Organizing for Action, the group spun off from his re-election campaign, blasted a statement to supporters touting the news–and included a donation link. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which raises money for House Democrats, did the same, according to Politico.
President Obama said, “An open Internet is essential to the American economy, and increasingly to our very way of life. By lowering the cost of launching a new idea, igniting new political movements, and bringing communities closer together, it has been one of the most significant democratizing influences the world has ever known.”
But perhaps the biggest “democratizing influences” that the President was referring to was the spectacularly enthusiastic lobbying “Silicon Valley firms”. In 2014, lobbying expenditures by computer/Internet companies hit $139.5 million to fund a total of 1,094 Registered Lobbyists. A quarter of industry funding came contributions from Google at $16,830,000; Facebook at $9,340,000; and Microsoft Corp at $8,330,000.
In a free society, every company has the right to have its concerns heard by our leaders. But the computer/Internet industry lobbying seems to have been especially effective, because 747, or 68.3 percent, of those lobbyists were “Revolvers,”according to Open Secrets. This group passes through the “revolving door” that shuffles former federal employees into jobs as lobbyists, consultants and strategists, just as the door pulls former hired guns into government careers.
This substantial investment in Washington lobbying may also explain how the computer/Internet industry seemed to know exactly what was in the FCC’s supposedly secret 332-page draft regulatory scheme. Breitbart News reported in “Net Neutrality Passes: Everybody Equal, But Google Much More Equal” that in the final days before the FCC vote, “Google executives on Feb. 19 called aides to Wheeler and staffers for the FCC’s two other Democratic commissioners–Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel–to make their case” in support of Net Neutrality.
Many legal experts are doubtful that the dubious Net Neutrality can sustain the type of legal challenges that are sure to be made by Comcast, AT&T, Time Warner Cable and Verizon after two earlier FCC attempts to regulate and tax the Internet like the old AT&T monopoly were crushed by federal courts.
But Court challenges take time. With $139.5 million lobbying budget, perhaps a thousand-plus computer/Internet registered lobbyists can be helpful.