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The Democratic Congress' "tough choice" on net neutrality

With power comes responsibility and with responsibility comes tough choices. Both Speaker-elect Pelosi and Majority Leader-elect Reid have pledged to "govern from the center." The operative word here is "govern." While net neutrality may have been a good "political" issue for the Democrats, it is not a good "governing issue" for them.

With control of Congress, the Democrats can now make policy and pass legislation, which means, very practically, that they have to live with the real world consequences of their legislative rhetoric and decisions -- because Wall Street, markets and voters are taking them very seriously.

There's a simple, but tough choice Democratic Congressional leaders must make:

  • Do Democrats want the private sector to continue to invest in rapid and universal broadband deployment for all Americans?
  • Or do Democrats want the Government to "solve" the hypothetical problem of net neutrality and destroy private sector incentives for broadband investment and competition?

Private sector broadband investment and Government net neutrality regulation simply don't mix in the real world. It's a tough either/or choice.

Now that the Democrats are "governing from the center," they must factor in the effect of their rhetoric and actions on the market, Wall Street and the broadband sector at large, which affects upwards of one seventh of the Nation's economy.

What Democrats do now matters. It has real world consequences. Anyone involved in broadband deployment and investment understands that net neutrality regulation would effectively destroy economic incentives to invest in broadband infrastructure.

  • Investors and the market understand that net neutrality would make broadband a "dumb pipe" commodity.
  • They also understand that net neutrality regulation would deeply devalue our nation's multi-hundred-billion-dollar, broadband infrastructure and spectrum assets.

When Democrats fully absorb the new responsibility that comes with the power the American people have entrusted them with, I believe they will throttle back their net neutrality rhetoric and legislative activity.

The last thing the Democrats want going into the 2008 Presidential election is the specter of having triggered a recession by preemptively regulating the Internet and the broadband economy. They realize that the Internt and broadband are increasingly is critical to the Nation's productivity, economic growth, job creation, and international competitiveness. When those responsible for maintaining a Democratic Congress think this issue through on a "governing basis," the Democrats will conclude that their is dramatically more economic and political downside than upside in intervening in a heavy handed way, in a such a critical part of the economy, that is now humming along successfully. Remember no one calling for net neutrality is responsible for investing in broadband or getting broadband to all Americans.

In sum, "If it ain't broke don't fix it."

  • When the Democratic leadership in Congress figure this one out, and they will because they are obviously very savvy and astute, they will rein in their net neutrality regulatory zealots.
  • They have no interest in winning the battle over net neutrality, but losing their larger war of regaining the White House because they were reckless and irresponsible with the future of the Internet and the broadband economy.