MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/rss/blogs_and_articles/favicon.ico http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Obama Sounds Like He’s About to Reject the Keystone Pipeline http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/12/obama-reject-keystone-pipeline-press-conference <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>This <a href="http://grist.org/climate-energy/obama-says-surprisingly-smart-things-about-keystone/" target="_blank">story</a> first appeared on the </em><a href="http://grist.org/" target="_blank">Grist</a><em> website and is reproduced here as part of the </em><a href="http://climatedesk.org/" target="_blank">Climate Desk</a><em> collaboration.</em></p> <p>Speaking at his end-of-the-year press conference on Friday afternoon, President Obama sounded very much like he's poised to reject the Keystone XL pipeline. He gave his sharpest assessment to date of its potential costs and benefits&mdash;lots of costs and few benefits.</p> <p>Climate hawks rejoiced, not only because of Obama's implied opposition to Keystone, but because he finally confronted American ignorance of how the oil market works, and attempted to reorient our energy policy around reality.</p> <p>At the press conference, Obama <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9KYlFNJTa4">took a question</a> from <em>The Washington Post</em>'s Juliet Eilperin on what he will do about the Keystone XL pipeline, which congressional Republicans plan to <a href="http://grist.org/news/the-very-first-thing-the-new-republican-senate-will-do-is-try-to-push-through-keystone/">try to ram through</a> in January. Eilperin said Obama has in past comments "minimized some of the benefits" of Keystone. Obama responded that he has merely accurately characterized the benefits, which are objectively minimal, and walked Eilperin through a lesson in macroeconomics.</p> <p>Here are the highlights:</p> <blockquote> <p>I don't think I've minimized the benefits, I think I've described the benefits.</p> <p>At issue on Keystone is not American oil, it is Canadian oil that is drawn out of tar sands in Canada. That oil currently is being shipped through rail or trucks, and it would save Canadian oil companies and the Canadian oil industry an enormous amount of money if they could simply pipe it all the way through the United State down to the Gulf. Once that oil gets to the Gulf, it is then entering into the world market and it would be sold all around the world&hellip; There is very little impact, nominal impact, on US gas prices, what the average American consumer cares about, by having this pipeline come through.</p> <p>And sometimes the way this gets sold is, let's get this oil and it's going to come here and the implication is that's gonna lower oil prices here in the US It's not. There's a global oil market. It's very good for Canadian oil companies and it's good for the Canadian oil industry, but it's not going to be a huge benefit to US consumers. It's not even going to be a nominal benefit to US consumers.</p> </blockquote> <p>And video of Obama's whole answer:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/-9KYlFNJTa4?rel=0&amp;controls=0&amp;showinfo=0" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>It has been a source of aggravation to climate hawks that Obama has often pandered to the economic ignorance of the American public when it comes to gas prices. Obama's "all of the above" energy strategy falsely <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/energy/securing-american-energy">asserts</a> that increased domestic production of oil will reduce "our dependence on foreign oil," as if there really were any such thing. Oil <a href="http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2012/10/19/energy-independence-is-a-farce/">is a global commodity</a>. Prices are set by global supply and global demand. Whether the oil we buy happens to be drilled in the US, Canada, Russia, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, or Libya makes no difference. We are subsidizing our adversaries who produce oil as long as we are filling our gas-guzzlers with it. More oil production in the US, or oil importation from Canada, will not inoculate us against the price shocks caused by supply disruptions in the Middle East or elsewhere.</p> <p>The whole American debate around energy policy has been perverted by the public's failure to understand this basic concept. Republicans, of course, <a href="http://prospect.org/article/energy-gop-doesnt-know-what-problem">eagerly fan the flames</a> of economic illiteracy. Obama's approach has usually been to try to split the difference between this foolishness and smart energy policy by promising to increase domestic production of both renewables and fossil fuels. But now Obama has confronted these public misperceptions and tried to educate the public so that energy policy can be decided on a more rational basis.</p> <p>As for Keystone, Obama went on to observe that the other supposed benefit, construction jobs, is real but small and temporary. Meanwhile, our transportation and clean water infrastructure crumbles and Republicans refuse to appropriate money to fix and improve it, which would create more jobs and lasting economic effects than construction of any pipeline. "[W]hen you consider what we could be doing if we were rebuilding our roads and bridges around the country, something that Congress could authorize, we could probably create hundreds of thousands of jobs, or a million jobs," he said. (In fairness, Obama has refused to propose raising the gasoline tax to fund more transportation investment.)</p> <p>And Obama mentioned the cost of climate change and the possibility that Keystone would exacerbate it. "If we've got more flooding, more wildfires, more drought, there are direct economic impacts on that," he said.</p> <p>The main Keystone drawback Obama neglected to mention is the local environmental risk to the communities the pipeline would pass through due to possible leaks.</p> <p>Nonetheless, green groups were overjoyed. NextGen Climate, the organization funded by Tom Steyer, immediately sent out video of Obama's answer with the subject line, "KEYSTONE XL GETS THE PRESIDENTIAL SEAL OF DISAPPROVAL." We don't actually know that, yet, but it's looking likely.</p></body></html> Environment Energy Obama Top Stories Infrastructure Sat, 20 Dec 2014 13:51:38 +0000 Ben Adler 267091 at http://www.motherjones.com Personal Health Update http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/12/personal-health-update <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I haven't had any fresh news on the health front lately, so I haven't brought it up on the blog. But I continue to get lots of queries and good wishes, and today I finally have something to report. I'm 8 weeks through my 16-week regimen of chemotherapy, and last week my doctor ordered up sort of a halftime report on how I'm doing. This is an extended set of lab tests, and today she called to tell me the results.</p> <p>Apparently they came out great. Unfortunately, I don't actually remember the names of the protein markers and other things we were looking for, so I have to be a little vague here. Immunoglobulins? Lympho-somethings? In any case, the levels were way, way down, and that's what we were hoping for. This means the chemo is working well so far and the myeloma is hopefully on the run.</p> <p>That's my good news for the day. What's yours?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 20 Dec 2014 01:34:45 +0000 Kevin Drum 267081 at http://www.motherjones.com Watch President Obama Call on Female Reporters for Every Single Question During Friday's Presser http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/12/obama-women-reporters%20 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>For his final press conference of 2014, President Obama exclusively called on female reporters. The White House had planned it that way:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>.<a href="https://twitter.com/PressSec">@PressSec</a> statement on questioner list: <a href="http://t.co/QA44ySvsL3">pic.twitter.com/QA44ySvsL3</a></p> &mdash; Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) <a href="https://twitter.com/ZekeJMiller/status/546040841434042369">December 19, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>By the eighth and final question, Obama even appeared to <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2014/12/19/?entry=7679&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">ignore</a> a male reporter's attempt to participate. The result was amazing. <strong>Watch below:</strong></p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/DHD8xuDvxoA" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> MoJo Video Obama Sex and Gender Fri, 19 Dec 2014 21:12:34 +0000 James West 267061 at http://www.motherjones.com Elizabeth Warren: Wall Street Just Got Another Giveaway http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/12/volcker-rule-extension-federal-reserve <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Last week, Congress did Wall Street a solid. When lawmakers passed a giant spending bill that funds the government through September, they included a <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/12/spending-bill-992-derivatives-citigroup-lobbyists" target="_blank">provision</a> written by Citigroup lobbyists that allows banks to make more risky trades with taxpayer-insured money. Then, on Thursday, bankers got another giveaway: The Federal Reserve <a href="http://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/press/bcreg/20141218a.htm" target="_blank">announced</a> it would delay for up to two years implementation of a crucial section of the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/12/volcker-rule-what-you-need-to-know" target="_blank">Volcker rule</a>&mdash;one of the most important regulations to come out of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform bill. The rule generally forbids the high-risk trading by commercial banks that helped cause the financial crisis. The move by the Fed pushes the deadline for banks to comply past the next presidential election and gives Wall Street lobbyists more time to weaken it.</p> <p>"Less than a week after Wall Street slipped a bailout provision written by Citigroup into the government spending bill, the Fed has given the big banks another victory," Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said in a statement Friday.</p> <p>"It's really hard to see an excuse for this," says Marcus Stanley, the financial policy director at Americans for Financial Reform, an advocacy group.</p> <p>The Volcker rule ensures that financial institutions don't engage in something called proprietary trading, which is when a bank trades for its own benefit as opposed to for the benefit of its customers. Banks were supposed to comply with the Volcker rule by July 21, 2014. Last year, when banking watchdogs finalized the rule, the Fed granted banks a year-long extension. The Fed's Thursday announcement gives banks <em>another</em> year to get rid of certain investments&mdash;including those in private equity firms and hedge funds. The central bank also noted Thursday that it plans to push out the deadline again next year, by another 12 months. That brings the new compliance deadline to July 2017, far past the 2016 election. If the new president is a Republican, he could fill his administration with Wall Street insiders opposed to the rule, making it even easier for lobbyists to gut it.</p> <p>Before the Volcker rule was finalized last year, the financial industry fought like mad to weaken it. The regulation could slash the total annual profits of the eight largest US banks by up to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-12-04/will-the-volcker-rule-crimp-wall-street-profits" target="_blank">$10 billion</a>, according to an estimate by Standard &amp; Poor's. Banking reform advocates were fairly happy with way the final reg turned out. But now the financial industry has extra time to take a few more whacks at rule before banks actually have to obey it. "Wall Street&rsquo;s loophole lawyers and other hired guns will&hellip; continue to hit at the rule as if it were a pi&ntilde;ata," Dennis Kelleher, the president of the financial reform advocacy group Better Markets, <a href="http://www.bettermarkets.com/reform-news/volcker-rule%E2%80%99s-ban-proprietary-trading-direct-attack-high-risk-%E2%80%98quick-buck%E2%80%99-culture-wall#.Uqc4DY3QGQg" target="_blank">said</a> when regulators completed the rule in 2013.</p> <p>The Dodd-Frank law already contains a provision allowing banks that will have difficulty getting rid of particular investments before the initial compliance deadline to request an extension from banking regulators. The Fed's announcement yesterday amounts to an unnecessary "blanket" extension, Stanley says. "It's hogwash."</p></body></html> MoJo Economy Regulatory Affairs Fri, 19 Dec 2014 20:54:29 +0000 Erika Eichelberger 267016 at http://www.motherjones.com Friday Cat Blogging - 19 December 2014 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/12/friday-cat-blogging-19-december-2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I have to run, but before I do here's what passes for an action shot of the dynamic duo. It's about the best I can do these days. As you might guess, they're entranced with something we're waving around just outside the frame. Maybe a pencil? I'm not sure. But with cats, the cheapest cat toys are always the best.</p> <p>(Seriously. Hopper's favorite, by far, is an empty toilet paper tube. She just goes nuts over them.)</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hilbert_2014_12_19_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 60px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 19 Dec 2014 19:55:06 +0000 Kevin Drum 267051 at http://www.motherjones.com Obama: Sony "Made a Mistake" Stopping the Release of "The Interview" http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/12/obama-sony-mistake-the-interview-north-korea <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On Friday, President Barack Obama called Sony's decision to cancel the release of "The Interview" a "mistake."</p> <p>"We cannot have a society in which a dictator in some place can start imposing censorship in the United States," he<a href="http://time.com/3642459/sony-hack-the-interview-barack-obama/" target="_blank"> told</a> reporters at his final press conference of the year. "Imagine if producers and distributors and others start engaging in self-censorship because they don&rsquo;t want to offend the sensibilities of someone who&rsquo;s sensibilities probably need to be offended."</p> <p>"I wish they'd spoken to me first," he added. "I would have told them: Do not get into the pattern in which you are intimidated."</p> <p>Earlier on Friday, the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/19/fbi-sony-hack_n_6354450.html" target="_blank">FBI</a> officially linked the North Korean government to the cyber attack on Sony. In the press conference, Obama indicated the US government was considering how to respond.</p> <p>When asked for specifics, he said, "We've been working up a range of options. They will be presented to me and I will make a decision based on what I think is proportional and appropriate to the nature of this crime."</p> <iframe src="http://player.theplatform.com/p/2E2eJC/nbcNewsOffsite?guid=nbc_sr_obama_141219" width="630" height="354" scrolling="no" frameborder="0"></iframe></body></html> MoJo Video Media Obama Fri, 19 Dec 2014 19:40:58 +0000 Inae Oh 267046 at http://www.motherjones.com Sean Penn on Sony Pulling "The Interview": This Sends ISIS an "Invitation" http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/12/sean-penn-reaction-sony-north-korea <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Actor and activist Sean Penn, no surprise, has some thoughts about the Sony hacking and the movie studio's decision to pull <em>The Interview</em> after cyber-saboteurs linked (<a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/12/19/371894427/fbi-formally-accuses-north-korea-in-sony-hacking" target="_blank">by the FBI</a>) to North Korea threatened moviegoers and theaters. Here's a statement Penn sent me:</p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <p>It's not the first time culture has been threatened by foreign interests and corporate caution. See [then Disney CEO] Michael Eisner's <a href="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/tibet/etc/script.html" target="_blank">interview</a> with Charlie Rose in 1997, when Disney was dealing with pressure from China about Martin Scorcese's Tibet film, <em>Kundun</em>. Eisner said, "we do not take, as a company, a position either in human rights or not in human rights. We are a movie company. We're an entertainment company." That was a pretty shocking statement. (Disney, which was looking to expand its ventures in China, did end up distributing the film, but distribution was limited and the advertising budget was low&mdash;and despite these concessions, Disney was largely frozen out of the Chinese markets for years.) This week, the distributors who wouldn't show <em>The Interview</em> and Sony have sent ISIS a commanding invitation. I believe ISIS will accept the invitation. Pandora's box is officially open.</p> <p>The damage we do to ourselves typically outweighs the harm caused by outside threats or actions. Then by caving to the outside threat, we make our nightmares real. The decision to pull <em>The Interview</em> is historic. It's a case of putting short term interests ahead of the long term. If we don't get the world on board to see that this is a game changer, if this hacking doesn't frighten the Chinese and the Russians, we're in for a very different world, a very different country, community, and a very different culture.</p> <p>I'm not sure the world has come to terms with all the implications of the hacking. I was in Liberia and Sierra Leone right at the beginning of the Ebola outbreak in April. It did seem to those of us there that the response was neither coming swiftly or with a true sense of urgency. This feels the same. This matter should be before the UN Security Council today.</p> </blockquote> </blockquote></body></html> Politics Film and TV Foreign Policy Media Top Stories Fri, 19 Dec 2014 19:34:34 +0000 David Corn 267036 at http://www.motherjones.com More Good News For Obamacare: Employer Health Coverage Hasn't Crashed http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/12/more-good-news-obamacare-employer-health-coverage-hasnt-crashed <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_kaiser_employer_health_insurance_covered_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">The share of the population with employer health insurance has been slowly eroding for years. <a href="http://kff.org/health-costs/report/2014-employer-health-benefits-survey/" target="_blank">The chart on the right</a> tells the story: total coverage rates have dropped from 70 percent to 62 percent since 2001. The trend is pretty clear: the number of workers covered by employer insurance has been dropping about half a percentage point per year for more than a decade.</p> <p>So has Obamacare accelerated this trend? There have long been fears that it might: once the exchanges were up and running, employers might decide that it was cheaper to ditch their own insurance and just pay their workers extra to buy coverage on the open market. But a new study says <a href="http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/early/2014/12/16/hlthaff.2014.1298.full" target="_blank">that hasn't happened:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>We found essentially no change in offer rates throughout the study period. Overall, the rates stayed steady, at around 82 percent. Offer rates in small firms also held steady, at around 61 percent....We found no change in take-up rates overall, or by income or firm size, between June 2013 and September 2014.</p> <p>....<strong>As with offer and take-up rates of employer-sponsored insurance, there were no significant differences in coverage rates for the insurance overall or for any subgroup.</strong> The rates stayed roughly constant at about 71 percent across all workers, about 50 percent among workers in small firms, and about 82 percent among workers in large <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_employer_coverage_before_after_obamacare.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">firms. The rates also remained constant among low- and high-income workers in either small or large firms.</p> </blockquote> <p>Note that the percentages themselves differ between the Kaiser numbers and the study numbers thanks to differences in methodology. And there are, of course, plenty of reasons we might see only small changes in employer coverage. The economy has improved. Inertia might be keeping things in check for a while. Perhaps as Obamacare becomes settled law and its benefits become more widely known, more employers will drop their own coverage.</p> <p>Those are all possibilities. For now, though, it looks as though fears of employers dumping health coverage were unfounded. It's yet more good news for Obamacare.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Fri, 19 Dec 2014 18:50:55 +0000 Kevin Drum 267031 at http://www.motherjones.com Americans Are More Concerned About Racism Than at Anytime Since Rodney King http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/12/race-relations-america-gallup <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/qocpg9wuae2lakl2em3ceg_0.png"><div class="caption">Gallup</div> </div> <p>A new poll conducted by Gallup found that <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/180257/major-problem-race-relations-sharply-rises.aspx" target="_blank">13 percent</a>&nbsp;of Americans believe racism is the country's most important problem,&nbsp;up from just 1 percent in November. It's the highest that number has been since the Rodney King verdict in 1992.</p> <p>The sharp rise follows national outrage and a wave of protests that swept the nation in response to the failure by two separate grand juries to indict two white officers who killed two black men, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/12/grand-jury-doesnt-indict-staten-island-cop-death-eric-garner" target="_blank">Eric Garner</a> and <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/11/6-revelations-grand-jury-documents" target="_blank">Michael Brown.</a></p> <p>According to the data published Friday, nonwhites are more than twice as likely as whites to call race relations/racism the country's most important problem:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/cdwhcccrpum3jhtjnja_5a.png"><div class="caption">Gallup</div> </div> <p>The latest poll echoes recent studies revealing similar sentiments, including <a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/first-read/poll-57-percent-americans-say-race-relations-u-s-are-n269491" target="_blank">worsening</a> race relations and a growing distrust of law enforcement officers among Americans.&nbsp;As for the latter, however, Gallup found in a poll published earlier this week that while trust in police by nonwhites has <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/180230/drop-among-nonwhites-drives-police-honesty-ratings-down.aspx" target="_blank">plummeted by 22 percent,</a> whites' views on the issue have barely changed.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/vozxveeicuwrc2qjvtkprg_0.png"><div class="caption">Gallup</div> </div> <p>As for the most important problem facing the nation, that's still the <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/179381/americans-say-government-economy-important-problems.aspx" target="_blank">government</a>, which leads racism by 2 points.</p> <p class="p1"><em>Correction: The original version of this story misstated the last time so many Americans viewed racism as the nation's biggest problem; it was after the Rodney King verdict, not his death.</em></p></body></html> MoJo Charts Crime and Justice Race and Ethnicity Fri, 19 Dec 2014 18:35:15 +0000 Inae Oh 267021 at http://www.motherjones.com Are Republicans Really Ready to Embrace Net Neutrality? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/12/are-republicans-really-ready-embrace-net-neutrality <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Well, this is unexpected. Democrats are generally in favor of net neutrality, the principle that all websites should be treated equally by internet service providers. Companies can't pay extra for faster service and ISPs can't slow down or block sites they don't <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/images/Blog_Net_Neutrality_Shirt.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">like. Naturally, since Democrats are in favor of this, Republicans are opposed. <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2014/12/19/congress-wants-to-legislate-net-neutrality-heres-what-that-might-look-like/" target="_blank">But maybe not all <em>that</em> opposed:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Republicans in Congress appear likely to introduce legislation next month aimed at preventing Internet providers from speeding up some Web sites over others....<strong>Industry officials said they are discussing details of the proposal with several Republican lawmakers,</strong> whom they declined to name. The officials also said the proposal is being backed by several large telecommunications companies, which they also declined to name.</p> <p>One important piece of the proposed legislation would establish a new way for the FCC to regulate broadband providers by creating a separate provision of the Communications Act known as "Title X," the people said. Title X would enshrine elements of the tough net neutrality principles called for by President Obama last month. For example, it would give FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler the authority to prevent broadband companies from blocking or slowing traffic to Web sites, or charging content companies such as Netflix for faster access to their subscribers &mdash; a tactic known as "paid prioritization."</p> <p>....<strong>"Consensus on this issue is really not that far apart,"</strong> said an industry official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks were ongoing. "There's common understanding that rules are needed to protect consumers."</p> </blockquote> <p>Huh. I wonder if this is for real? The reported price for supporting this legislation is relatively small: the FCC would be prohibited from regulating the internet as a common carrier under Title II, something that even net neutrality supporters agree is problematic. The problem is that although Title II would indeed enshrine net neutrality, it comes with a ton of baggage that was designed for telephone networks and doesn't really translate well to the internet. This would require a lot of "regulatory forbearance" from the FCC, which is almost certain to end up being pretty messy. A new net-centric Title X, if it truly implements net neutrality, would be a much better solution. It would also be immune to court challenges.</p> <p>One possibility for such a law would be a modified version of net neutrality. My sense has always been that the real goal of net neutrality supporters is to make sure that internet providers don't provide fast lanes for companies willing to pay more, and don't slow down or block companies they dislike (perhaps because the companies provide services they compete with). At the same time, everyone acknowledges that video requires a lot of bandwidth, and internet providers legitimately need incentives to build out their networks to handle the growing data demands of video. So why not have content-neutral rules that set tariffs based on the type of service provided? Video providers might have to pay more than, say, Joe's Cafe, but all video providers would pay the same rate based on how much traffic they dump on the net. That rate would be subject to regulatory approval to prevent abuse.</p> <p>I dunno. Maybe that's too complicated. Maybe it's too hard to figure out traffic levels in a consistent way, and too hard to figure out how much video makes you a video provider. Maybe rules like this are too easy to game. In the end, it could be that the best bet is to simply agree on strong net neutrality, and then let ISPs charge their customers for bandwidth. If you watch a ton of Netflix, you're going to pay more. If you just check email once a day, you'll get a cheap plan.</p> <p>In any case, it's interesting that President Obama's announcement of support for strong net neutrality has really had an effect. It apparently motivated the FCC to get more serious about Title II regulation, and this in turn has motivated the industry to concede the net neutrality fight as long as they can win congressional approval of a more reasonable set of rules. The devil is in the details, of course, and I have no doubt that industry lobbyists will do their best to craft rules favorable to themselves. Luckily, there's a limit to how far they can go since it will almost certainly require Democratic support to pass a bill.</p> <p>Anyway, this is all just rumors and reports of rumors at this point. Stay tuned to see if it actually pans out.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress Regulatory Affairs Tech Fri, 19 Dec 2014 17:32:25 +0000 Kevin Drum 267026 at http://www.motherjones.com