Obama’s Net Neutrality Push

So this probably wasn’t what Republicans had in mind in calling for a fresh set of domestic policy priorities for Barack Obama (per this report from the New York Times‘ Shear and Wyatt):

President Obama on Monday put the full weight of his administration behind an open and free Internet, calling for a strict policy of so-called net neutrality and formally opposing deals in which content providers like Netflix would pay huge sums to broadband companies for faster access to their customers.

The president’s proposal is consistent with his longstanding support for rules that seek to prevent cable and telephone companies from providing special access to some content providers. But the statement posted online Monday, as Mr. Obama traveled to Asia, is the most direct effort by the president to influence the debate about the Internet’s future.

Obama is also calling for the extension of net neutrality rules to mobile devices.

This stance should be popular with progressives, particularly younger progressives, and certainly could generate some of the populist heat so many have called for in the wake of the turnout calamity last Tuesday. It could also push Republicans into an uncomfortable position. Check out Ted Cruz’s reaction (via Colin Campbell of Business Insider):

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) came out swinging after President Barack Obama wholeheartedly endorsed new internet regulations Monday morning.

Cruz, who is mulling a run for president in 2016, compared the entire concept of “net neutrality” — which posits that internet companies should not be allowed to speed or slow down their services for certain users — to Obama’s much-maligned healthcare reform.

‘”Net Neutrality’ is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government,” Cruz wrote on Twitter.

The more Republicans extend their philosophy of absolute private property and unregulated markets into areas that affect aspects of daily life, the more they may ultimately undermine their own message that government is always the problem and big avaricious companies can do no wrong. This was a good move for Obama.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.