Why Republicans May Not Support Net Neutrality

Republicans who may want to support net neutrality are caught between interest groups and the Tea Party, according to The Hill. A bill floated by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) is probably not going to survive the process as a result.

Net roots groups are probably happy to hear that – many, but not all – consider the bill to be a watered down measure that takes authority away from the FCC and makes many concessions to telecom companies. Nevertheless, Republicans who avoided the ire of the Tea Party during primaries are afraid to be on the wrong side of the issue.  

"I hope [GOP House members] keep in mind that the fired-up group of people this cycle is the Tea Party," Seton Motley told The Hill. Motley runs the group Less Government, which is against what it sees as "government regulations."

While Democratic lawmakers involved with the legislation are trying to get GOP support during the lame-duck session, signs point to an uphill battle.

"Speaker Pelosi and President Obama have taken measures to control the healthcare industry, the auto industry, the banking industry and the insurance industry," Culberson told The Hill on Monday. "It comes as no surprise that they attempt to control commercial activity over the Internet before they lose control of Congress."

Supporting a bill that creates new rules will be a hard vote for Republican members to make because they have been opposed to the policy. Active opposition from Tea Party groups could make it even tougher for Republicans to support it.

Thirty-five Tea Party groups spoke out against net-neutrality rules earlier this year in a letter to the FCC , and vowed to organize around the issue.

More details on the groups that will provide Republicans in the house cover (should they need it) can be found in this Hill Report. But as the report points out, it won’t protect them from the Tea Party.

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  1. 0
    Carda says:

    I fail to see how a lack of competition means that the federal government needs to get involved.  That’s just another step down a slippery slope of government overregulation that we’re suffering under right now.

    I’m not saying that the ISPs are flawless institutions.  I just don’t trust Capitol Hill to "fix" anything, especially not with the irresponsible morons currently running the place.

  2. 0
    Thad says:

    To add to what the other commenters have said: according to Consumer Reports, 96% of America has 2 or fewer broadband providers.

    Where there’s no competition, there’s no free market.

  3. 0
    JDKJ says:

    ISPs tend to enjoy natural monopolies (which aren’t any kind of antitrust violation) because the cost of a competitor stringing their own service lines usually isn’t justified by the shared profit potential. Just like electricity service providers, who also enjoy natural monopolies.

  4. 0
    HunterD says:

    Free Market only works if there is competiton.

    There are lots of places where there isn’t really competition for ISPs, if your in the wrong area and your ISP decides to throttle and there aren’t ISPs that don’t throttle around, you’re stuck with them or nothing.


    Also, EVERY time the government gets invovled in something that’s not their job they screw it up royally?

    So should we go back to the old system of free market competative firehouses?
    You know, where there are competing firehouses in your town and you pay one to protect your house, and if your house catches on fire the other other companies will just pass your house and not bother to help?

    Sure the government has screwed some things up, but let’s not start tossing absolutes.

  5. 0
    Carda says:

     You know, net neutrality doesn’t need to be regulated by the government.

    It’s called a free market.  If an ISP blocks or throttles specific traffic, people are likely to switch providers.  It’s just good business practice to keep all channels open.

    Just because the government doesn’t clamp down on ISPs doesn’t mean the ISPs are going to suddenly start making it harder for you to visit the websites you want.  If they did, I’m sure there would be a zillion First Amendment lawsuits over it.

    Let’s face it, every time the feds have gotten heavily involved in something that wasn’t their job, they’ve screwed it up royally.  I honestly don’t trust them to get something like net neutrality right either.  Given the prevailing corruption in Congress over the past couple of decades, I’d bet that the Big Evil Telecoms (TM) that some people seem to hate so much would get some sort of exemption anyway.

  6. 0
    Neeneko says:

    Well, both sides have their idiots.  After all, on the right you have many people who believe corperations are good (after all, if you make lots of money, you must be superior) and thus they know what is really good for us.  So they fall for just as much crap.

  7. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    NN needs to focus on being a dumb pipe for data/information anythign mroe than that allows the snake oil, anti consumer and other bad for us all groups in to make it something it is not.

    The FCC needs to make the case that ISPs are tele/cable communication and thus need some form of basic regulation to keep profiteers out and data/information flowing steadily.

    I have a dream, break the chains of copy right oppression! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/2010/05/21/cigital-disobedience/

  8. 0
    Nerd42 says:

    Net Neutrality needs to be talked about in terms of guaranteeing free market capitalism on the Internet and tiered service being an example of picking winners completely apart from the laws of supply and demand. Those should be it’s defender’s talking points, that is what Tea Party people care about.

    Instead it’s being couched in typical leftist "Rich vs Poor" tripe in which all coporations are evil and the wonderful benevolent wise government needs to save us from the evil corporations. Don’t be surprised if the idiots on the right are smart enough not to fall for that crap. Guarantee competition, free markets, individual free enterprise! That’s what net neutrality should be about!

  9. 0
    Thad says:

    Hi Jedi,

    What do any of those things have to do with what this article is about?









    PS: Ack, just noticed the typo in my OP.  "Industries", not "industry’s".

  10. 0
    JDKJ says:

    The verb "tout" is not synonymous with the verb "write." You accused Barney Frank of writing the legislation that caused the 2007 cluster-fuck in the financial markets. Perhaps as a gay Democrat, Sen. Frank presents himself to you as an easy target, but you really are barking up the wrong tree on that one. I’d be surprised if he even voted for Gramm-Leach. 

  11. 0
    jedidethfreak says:

    Barney Frank is the one who’s been touting for the decade previous to the crisis that this deregulation on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was good for the country – you know, that same deregulation that everyone decries as the cause.  He’s also the one who – after the crisis – still believes that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac did nothing wrong.

    With the first link, the chain is forged.

  12. 0
    JDKJ says:

    And called him out quite unfairly, in my opinion. It was the repeal of Glass-Steagall by a bill introduced by Gramm and Leach (two Republicans) and which passed the Senate on a vote split evenly along party lines that effectively allowed the banking industry to engage in sub-prime lending and Wall Street to trade those junk sub-prime mortgages as derivatives and which in turn caused the meltdown of the financial markets.

  13. 0
    Thomas McKenna says:

    Well, to be fair, you can’t really blame the banks on Obama, as those were before him.  You also can’t blame the first $750 bil bailout on him either, since it was Bush that pushed for it.

    Everything else, though….yeah, he kind of screwed the pooch on that one.  Republicans could have realized that it was going to happen anyways and put in their own $0.02, thus potentially mitigating some of these things (yeah right, let’s face it – both parties screw up, but not nearly as much as when they try and work together), but instead they just decided to do jack shit and complain about everything.

  14. 0
    Neeneko says:

    The trouble comes from what ISPs that own thier lines (i.e., all broadband ones today) are classified as.  The FCC is allowed to regulate common carriers, but who gets to decide what a ‘common carrier’ is, is a bit less clear.  So for the moment they have escaped regulation because judges deciced they are ‘information services’ rather then ‘telecommunication services’.  

    Given how arbitrary the distinction is, it will probably get reviewed at some point, esp as VoIP becomes more popular and thus current ISPs start feeling more like telcos to aging judges who are not familiar with the technology.

  15. 0
    JDKJ says:

    All independent regulatory commissions created by Congress work that way. The emphasis is more accurately placed on "commission," not "independent."

    The "ever since" you refer to goes all the way back to the ’34 Act which created the FCC. 

  16. 0
    jedidethfreak says:

    Ever since Congress decided that the FCC had to do what they said, not what the FCC wanted to do.  Unless Congress says they can, they can’t.

    With the first link, the chain is forged.

  17. 0
    greevar says:

    I don’t see why the FCC hasn’t bothered to re-classify cable and DSL back to common carrier status so that they do have the authority to enforce neutrality.


  18. 0
    jedidethfreak says:

    SOME regulation?  Probably not.

    Making it a CRIME to not purchase health insurance?  Yes.

    The President of the United States firing the CEO of one car company and forcing another to be bought by a foreign company?  Yes.

    Blaming banks for the economic crisis because they followed the law that a lot of these same politicians wrote in the first place (I’m looking at you, Barney Franks)?  Yes.

    You see, there’s a difference between "a little government regulation" and doubling the government debt in a matter of two years.

    With the first link, the chain is forged.

  19. 0
    HunterD says:

    According to some folks, yes, any government regulation is bad for anything.

    Now, I disagree with that concept, but there are folks out there who earnestly believe it.

  20. 0
    Thad says:

    "Speaker Pelosi and President Obama have taken measures to control the healthcare industry, the auto industry, the banking industry and the insurance industry."

    …regardless of what you think of the actual legislation the Dems have passed, is the very IDEA of those industry’s having some government regulation really that bad?

    Anyway, yet another example of the Democrats screwing the pooch by not passing popular legislation when they had the chance.  Remember when a majority of people on all sides of the political spectrum favored net neutrality?  It wasn’t that long ago.

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