House Budget Bill Guts Net Neutrality, Kills FCC Authority -- All Because The FCC Dared To Stand Up To Comcast & AT&T

from the punished-for-doing-your-job dept

We've noted a few times now that ever since the FCC passed net neutrality rules, loyal ISP politicians in the House and Senate have been engaged in a full-court press to punish the agency for daring to stand up to big broadband ISPs. That has involved an endless parade of taxpayer-funded hearings pretending to be about agency transparency and accountability -- but are really just about publicly shaming the agency. It has also involved a laundry list of bills that attempt to thoroughly gut FCC funding and authority under the pretense of saving the country from a power-mad FCC.

This not-so-subtle ballet continued this week, when the House passed a new budget bill that would gut the FCC's 2017 budget by $69 million, stall the FCC's attempt to bring competition to the cable box, and prevent the FCC from enforcing net neutrality violations until the industry's lawsuit is settled. In fact, like previous bills, this new budget bill uses an absurdly broad definition of "rate regulation" to effectively prevent the FCC from doing anything:
"The GOP proposals define rate regulation so broadly that Wheeler says they would prevent the FCC from enforcing key net neutrality provisions and disrupt its process for reviewing mergers. The budget bill again uses a definition of rate regulation that goes far beyond the utility rate-setting traditionally imposed on landline phone providers. The proposal would prevent the FCC from using its net neutrality rules to act against discriminatory data cap policies, among other things."
Note that this latest push comes -- not coincidentally -- as ISPs like AT&T and Comcast have started pushing usage caps harder, and the FCC has started dropping hints that it might just do something about it.

All the while, the pretense continues that this is all just the House's quest to ensure government is fiscally responsible, transparent, and accountable before the "American people." From an announcement by House Appropriations Committee Chair Hal Rogers:
"The job of this bill is two-fold: to make wise investments with taxpayer dollars in the programs and agencies that we need to grow our economy and enforce our laws, and to tightly hold the reins on the over-spending and overreach within federal bureaucracies. This bill makes great strides on all accounts – carefully investing taxpayer dollars in programs that promote opportunity, while keeping these agencies accountable to the American people."
You are, of course, supposed to ignore that Rogers received $25,000 in campaign contributions during the current election cycle from the telecom industry, and that this is all just a giant stage play designed to punish the telecom regulator for actually doing its fucking job.

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  • icon
    limbodog (profile), 26 May 2016 @ 9:33am

    Well yeah, that's how that works, right? Piss off your boss and you get fired.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2016 @ 9:35am

    ONLY 25K?

    My GOD he is really cheap!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      SteveMB (profile), 26 May 2016 @ 11:35am

      Re: ONLY 25K?

      He only costs 25K, and he provides the lube at no extra charge!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 26 May 2016 @ 12:13pm

      Re: ONLY 25K?

      It's both amazing and disgusting just how little you need to buy some politicians. Though the name escapes me at the moment I remember one story a while back where one sold out their constituents for a whopping ten thousand, making Roger's seem downright pricey in comparison.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Whoever, 26 May 2016 @ 9:42am

    Cheap!

    You are, of course, supposed to ignore that Rogers received $25,000 in campaign contributions during the current election cycle

    I am amazed at how little money it takes to get politicians out to bat for you. $25K: that's pocket change for AT&T or Comcast. Even $25K to every congress person and senator is still pocket money.

    One can't help wondering if there is more? For example, promises of lucrative "consulting" positions in retirement?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2016 @ 10:02am

      Re: Cheap!

      There is always more, never mistake the fact that that is always more.

      When politics are concerned, just consider it a fact that you no matter how hard you dig, you at most will only get about 50% of the story. There are players, shadow players, and innocent looking passive players.

      We citizens require no accountability from our government while they DEMAND obedience from us.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      limbodog (profile), 26 May 2016 @ 1:55pm

      Re: Cheap!

      No, it's $25,000 to him, and unknown thousands to various people on his friends list. Plus a job for his cousin Nunzio, and a trip to Hawaii for a fact finding mission.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    clemahieu (profile), 26 May 2016 @ 9:50am

    Told you so?

    Look what we have here regulatory capture when people stop paying attention.

    Now we have a bunch of rules that benefit existing players and none of the promised protections.

    It would be sadder if it wasn't so predicable.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2016 @ 9:58am

    I encourage congresscritters of both parties to continue this BS of ignoring what the public wants while accepting what are essentially bribes.

    These same politicians are wondering why voters are so pissed off at them and looking for other candidates that don't fit the mold of the incumbent/Washington insider as a required qualifier to hold office will only increase as the voters demand changes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2016 @ 10:07am

    They're just mad the FCC is actually doing its job, something they've failed to grasp the concept of.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2016 @ 11:10am

      Re:

      Sadly, you are incorrect, the FCC never did its job, or rather it DID do its job and it is really no longer needed, other than to maintain the status quo and perpetuate the state of regulatory capture.

      The ENTIRE purpose of a Federal Agency is to do what Congress tells it to do.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Wyrm (profile), 26 May 2016 @ 6:32pm

      No good deed goes unpunished.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Whatever (profile), 26 May 2016 @ 10:37am

    The reality is way more complex, and has as much to do with the FCC grabbing a power that it may not really have - to rule the internet.

    The critters aren't working for the cable companies - they are working for themselves. They don't want the FCC making law, it's their job.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2016 @ 11:06am

      Re:

      Shit Whatever, you said something intelligent for a change, I am shocked.

      Sadly most people do not get this.
      much to do with the FCC grabbing a power that it may not really have

      Federal Regulation agencies serve at the pleasure of Congress. They technically do not have any Constitutional Authority to create rules, regulations, or laws and neither does Congress have the Constitutional Authority to give that power to them either! Yes, they have been doing this for a while and yes the majority of Americans are stupid fucking idiots giving away their own liberty and voting in bastards that forsake American sovereignty but that is neither here nor there.

      It is a shit show and far too many Folks here at TD are ready to suck Babysitter Dingo FCC cocks to understand it all. Now don't get me wrong, I am not saying the full of shit diaper that is Congress is any better, just saying as per usually most don't get it, never will, and actually never wanted to get it in the first place! But damn do they sure like to arm chair quarterback it though!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2016 @ 1:32pm

        Re: Re:

        I agree with your overall point. But Whatever is incorrect in stating that the "critters aren't working for the cable companies" - as they quite clearly are doing just that. This is true even though in the process of doing so, (as you point out) they happen to be enforcing the checks & balances in the system. They are doing both things simultaneously. However, the more pertinent observation is that, once again, they are entirely failing to represent the public good (over large corporate donor interests) in this matter.

        ...and I beg of you, for the love of God man, don't encourage Whatever. It's obviously a boot-licking troll.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2016 @ 1:33pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I am certain he is a paid for shill.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2016 @ 1:38pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Agreed.

            @Whatever, I triple dog dare you to cowboy up and confess who it is you work for.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2016 @ 1:57pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Any conversation with Whatever needs to start with the acknowledgement that there is a problem with these predatory ISPs. Until that acknowledgement is made first there is little reason to take his opinion seriously because his opinion seems to just be one of a paid shill.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Whatever (profile), 26 May 2016 @ 8:26pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Total truth:

              I work for myself, small business owner - totally unrelated to Hollywood or the music industry.

              Sorry to disappoint you. It's really the truth, just sad that nobody seems able to accept that someone might have an opposite opinion on something and not get paid to have it.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 27 May 2016 @ 9:38am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            It's funny seeing a pro-IP shill telling us that something is 'more complex' as if we need the little brains of IP shills explaining the complexities of anything to us. The same IP shills that show little evidence of even reading the article before posting their ignorant comments because even reading the article first is too overwhelming for their little brains. Really? It's obvious that the regular people who frequent this blog and the Techdirt staff are way more intelligent than any of the IP shills around here so to see their simple minds pretend that we need them to explain the complexities of anything to us, given how brain dead half their comments are, is hilarious. At least if they submitted intelligent well worded comments then maybe we could take them more seriously but half the time their drivel amounts to nothing more than poorly worded incomprehensible nonsense. Though I will acknowledge that Whatever is one of the more intelligent shills but still that's not saying much.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2016 @ 3:35pm

        Re: Re: much to do with the FCC grabbing a power that it may not really have

        Under 47 U.S. Code § 151, the FCC is chartered for the purpose of "promoting safety of life and property"

        Since the surveillance and propaganda fiefdoms of the Cable Cabal are a direct threat to our Constitutional Democracy, by means of progressive nullification of article 1 section 9, and the 1st and 4th amendments, I would certainly say that the FCC stomping new holes in their asses falls within the scope of their charter.

        But I might be a little biased.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2016 @ 12:16pm

      Re:

      What's not complicated is that the ISPs are abusing the government granted lack of competition to engage in predatory pricing. That's not complicated it's obvious. and until you can acknowledge this obvious fact first then there is no point in further discussing this with you because you are nothing but a waste of time. Recognizing that there is a problem is the first step in trying to figure out how to solve it and if you can't even recognize the problem you're nothing but a waste of time and no one should take you seriously.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JMT (profile), 26 May 2016 @ 9:19pm

      Re:

      "The reality is way more complex, and has as much to do with the FCC grabbing a power that it may not really have - to rule the internet."

      Oh great, yet another who can't tell the difference between an ISP and the Internet! The FCC is attempting to better regulate the behavior of ISP's. They've done nothing that could be described as trying to "rule the Internet", even if such a thing could actually be done.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2016 @ 1:09pm

    Sad part is that it only took at $25k contribution to buy him. Morals apparently are pretty cheap

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2016 @ 1:13pm

    so, American people, stand up and call out Hal Rogers and all those who are receiving back-handers (read bribes) and make them accountable for doing the exact opposite to what they have said they are doing! then call out those who are lining these same politicians pockets and make them accountable too! sooner or later something has to give. USA politics is the most corrupt on the Planet and shames even the likes of Korea and Russia!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2016 @ 1:33pm

    being paid illegal bribes is obviously more important than doing the job you swore an oath to do.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2016 @ 4:18pm

      Re:

      being paid illegal bribes is obviously more important than doing the job you swore an oath to do.
      Political contributions are legal bribes, thank you. The law says they are legal so it must be all right.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2016 @ 4:16pm

    Hey, it's only paper and not worth anything

    You forget that all this currency is just an idea and is not actually worth anything. Your government (like most government) just prints its way out of things - whether laws or currency.

    Go back to the gold standard or go back to the barter standard.

    Pay me in gold, services or actual things, not political bribes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    got_runs? (profile), 26 May 2016 @ 4:27pm

    Politicians are a direct threat to America.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 May 2016 @ 3:06am

    Could we not set up a crowdfunding campaign to buy a few politicians of our own?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 May 2016 @ 10:39am

      Re: crowdfunding campaign to buy a few politicians of our own

      If you put half a dozen software engineers in Congress you'd never hear from them until it was time to leave. Then when they did finally speak, they'd have completely re-engineered the law, and the entire legislative process, and released Democracy 2.0 on CD. The entirety of the departure speech would be: "your shit works now.", then they'd just go home.

      Of course it would never happen. Hell doesn't take engineers. They keep building air conditioning systems.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    scatman, 27 May 2016 @ 5:47am

    Why

    Why are depending on our government to defend us against these monopolies when WE THE CONSUMERS fund these monopolies.

    Boycott or bend over.

    If the government is too busy cashing checks from lobbyists, then it's up to us to remind these greedy companies that they exist to serve OUR interests. Yes boycotting will absolutely suck, but if the government, that is supposed to enforce fair play in the market, is already bought and sold by the same companies that are robbing us, then what other recourse do we have?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    RainbowboomX (profile), 27 May 2016 @ 8:03am

    We definitely need two more party's at the government, seems both party have to much power and cant represent their constituents propertly

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Monday (profile), 27 May 2016 @ 9:42am

    It is quite obvious...

    ... that everyone posting here sees the link between 25k$ and the attack on the FCC, SO why does the FBI not step in and do something about this? What about every one of his constituents? It is illegal at some level? isn't it? You cannot just take money and then go to work for Big Cable. You just can't! This is not a coincidence! It is not Affinity!! And, it certainly is countermanding the public's / population's best interest!!! He took money for favor, and there is no denying this link!
    Any logical line of questioning would get to this conclusion, and could hold him culpable.

    Twenty-five grand just didn't get Big Cable a quick one w/happy ending, but they're fucking millions... and you still get wood on the morning after.

    It is obvious... hold to account...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 29 May 2016 @ 3:38pm

      Re: It is quite obvious...

      It is illegal at some level? isn't it?

      Nope. It might be illegal if they could find a piece of paper or email that said "I will vote for X if you give me a campaign contribution" but of course they're not stupid enough to write anything down. It is legal to accept campaign contributions and then vote in a manner beneficial to one's contributors.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 28 May 2016 @ 7:18am

    Par for the course

    So the house supports megacoporations who are doing their best to screw the public? Sounds about right.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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