Tags: prosperity | question | democrats | house

Prosperity in Question as Democrats Take Over House

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Friday, 09 November 2018 08:06 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Whether the Founders intended it or not, Congress acts like a giant on-off switch to American prosperity.

Consequently, every national election has a huge effect on our economy and how we live our lives. Over 110 million people – or, about 47% of all eligible voters – voted in this midterm election, making it the highest turnout (percentage-wise) since 1966’s midterms, which then saw 49% of America vote.

The massive voter turnout shows the stakes were high. So, what will this midterm election do to the prosperity switch?

To answer that, I look to the U.S. broadband / Internet policy landscape for insight.

For the first decades of the web’s development (from 1996 to 2015), there was a bi-partisan understanding that “light-touch” regulation of the medium was the best way to grow it.

Over this period, infrastructure companies poured more than $1.5 trillion of private investment into the ecosystem. Innovation thrived. Web services, content and products proliferated. And more Americans experienced affordable, lightning-fast connectivity than ever before.

Switch on.

That all changed when the Obama FCC passed Net Neutrality in 2015, upending “light-touch” policies in favor of heavy-handed, FDR-era utility regulation of the ISPs.

Unsurprisingly, not only did that hamper investment and growth, it also created a “mother-may-I” atmosphere, putting government officials at the helm of “proper” Internet development instead of the marketplace.

Switch off.

Then in 2018, the Trump FCC officially repealed the Obama rule, signaling a return to growth and prosperity-engendering “light-touch” regulation. At least, that was the plan until the midterm results. Though “light touch” regulation will not likely change for two years (either legislatively, at the FCC, or through the courts), the midterm-winning Democrats in the House want Net Neutrality and its prophylactic mindset back in control of the market. They plan to put a spanner in the works to achieve that goal.

Switch flickering.

Sure, the midterms may provide Senate Republicans and House Democrats a small window of opportunity to work together to get more broadband out to the hinterlands and to disadvantaged communities. The pairing might even find a way to make platforms like Facebook and Google, as well as other players in the ecosystem, more responsible for their privacy practices through an overarching, Federal law.

But, don’t hold your breath on much more.

Most House-Senate interaction will not be so cordial. House Democrats have the 2020 election and millennials in their crosshairs. Anything “Internet” that appears to be the opposite of free enterprise-oriented, Republican policy will be a strong sell to their RESIST constituents.

To this end, Democrats will be especially bent on fomenting controversy, obfuscation and delay once they come back into power in the House next January. Demonstration legislation, which will have no chance of getting signed by President Trump, will abound. These bills will ostensibly work to bring about nice-sounding goals like “improving broadband competition,” or “increasing broadband access and affordability,” or “eliminating online threats to democracy,” etc. To a one, however, they will provide the exact opposite of what “switch-on” Republicans see for market-oriented Internet policy.

House Democrats will also focus on the FCC, likely hauling its Net Neutrality-repealing chairman, Ajit Pai, before a litany of House Committees for aggressive “oversight.” Net Neutrality’s repeal, mergers, due process in FCC decision-making, spectrum allocation, America’s move to 5G wireless services, rural broadband, bridging the “digital divide,” ISP competition, and any other topics that can be used to hector and embarrass the present Commission will be ripe for hearings. This pressure won’t stop the FCC and its agenda, but it will make it slower and more cautious in its dealings going forward.

This dynamic will play out across Congress for the next two years. Hopefully, a growing economy will help keep the prosperity switch on, mooting RESIST Democrats and their hijinks.

Nevertheless, House Democrats – emboldened by their new access to the prosperity switch – will play a crafty game to take it all back with the next election.

Accordingly, Americans should expect to see a flicker or two until at least 2020.

Mike Wendy is president of Media Freedom, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
 

© 2018 Newsmax Finance. All rights reserved.

   
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MikeWendy
House Democrats – emboldened by their new access to the prosperity switch – will play a crafty game to take it all back with the next election.
prosperity, question, democrats, house
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2018-06-09
Friday, 09 November 2018 08:06 AM
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