TheDC Morning: White House technology advisor suggests regulating telecoms ‘into an inch of their life’
1.) Hold on to your MREs, the budget war is just getting started — While a government shutdown was averted at the 11th hour–or 23rd hour, for those of you who bunkered up with six months’ worth of MREs, fearful that society would collapse if the National Zoo did not open on Saturday–the war for America’s fiscal future ain’t over. One week after Rep. Paul Ryan took the first step, Pres. Obama will unveil his own deficit reduction plan on Wednesday. According to the WSJ, “Mr. Obama will propose cuts to entitlement programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, and changes to Social Security, a discussion he has largely left to Democrats and Republicans in Congress. He also will call for tax increases for people making over $250,000 a year, a proposal contained in his 2012 budget, and changing parts of the tax code he thinks benefit the wealthy.” The content of the proposal has taken Senate Democrats “off guard,” which is code for WTF, O? Meanwhile, independent analysts have determined that Ryan’s plan would eliminate nearly $3 trillion in tax deductions–“such as the mortgage interest deduction, the deduction for charitable contributions and the exclusion for employer-provided health insurance”–even as it lowers the top personal and corporate tax rates to 25 percent.
2.) Boehner won the 2011 budget battle, but can he win the 2012 entitlement spin war? — “Speaker John Boehner is pleased as punch with himself and his caucus for “dragg[ing] a reluctant Senate and White House into taking this imperfect first step toward getting spending under control,” but he’s not ready to call it a day just yet. In an op-ed in USA Today, Boehner reminds America that “before serving in Congress, I ran a small business. Created jobs. Met a payroll.” This is why Boehner heartily endorses Rep. Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity,” which “leads where the administration has failed and takes on autopilot spending that’s driving our debt crisis while preserving critical health and retirement security programs for the future.” Boehner goes on to write that “to be credible, the White House plan must preserve and protect programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.” Incidentally, Ryan’s loudest critics contend that the Path fails to do exactly this.
3.) Obama advisor wants to regulate industry “to an inch of their life” — The anti-capitalist and pro-Internet regulation group Free Press held its annual conference in Boston this past weekend. On a panel composed exclusively of Democratic government officials, former White House technology adviser Susan Crawford said that the FCC’s net neutrality rules did not go far enough in regulating telecom companies, because “unfortunately the world where regulating these guys into an inch of their life is exactly what needs to happen.” During the same panel, an advisor for Rep. Nancy Pelosi gave voice to the liberal fear that reforming the FCC “could lead to the decimation of the agency.”
4.) Why Silicon Valley’s one-time renegades are now all rent seeking sycophants — WSJ media analyst Gordon Crovitz notes the irony of Microsoft, once the target of a massive, unwanted, and unnecessary antitrust bomb in the 1990s, filing suit against Google on…antitrust grounds. The suit, filed in Europe, is a challenge to Google’s search engine supremacy. Google, you see, is making it difficult for Bing to get a foothold. And so what was not a problem when Bing was still in beta is suddenly a crisis. “There’s a lesson here for Microsoft and Google—and for Facebook and Twitter as the likeliest next-generation targets of complaints by frustrated competitors. In high-tech, by the time the political and legal systems catch up to an issue, the issue is moot,” writes Crovitz. “Soon after the Justice Department considered forcing Microsoft to break itself into separate Windows and Internet Explorer businesses, Mozilla launched a popular competing browser. Apple and Google later did the same.” A decade ago, the lack of government interference in the tech industry made it impossible for any one company to stay on top forever. No supreme authority was picking winners and losers. Today, the tech industry has doubled its lobbying expenditures, and Google and Facebook have massive Washington offices. Silicon Valley’s era of independence is over.
5.) Palin suddenly concerned about Obama’s birth certificate — Following in the footsteps of combover model and possible presidential candidate Donald Trump, Sarah Palin has changed her stance on Pres. Barack Obama’s birth certificate. In February, Palin said she was not interested in questions about Obama’s birth certificate because “those are distractions.” The real questions voters should be asking about Obama, Palin added, are about “the policies coming out of his administration and what he believes in terms of big government or private sector…the faith, the birth certificate, others can engage in that kind of conversation. It’s distracting. It gets annoying and let’s just stick with what really matters.” Two months later, the same woman who faced vicious and conspiratorial attacks about the birth of her son Trig said she “appreciates” Trump’s crusade to prove Obama’s origin story, because “there is something there that the president doesn’t want people to see on that birth certificate.”
6.) Obama administration finds the Fourth Amendment to be sort of inconvenient — Congress has plans to update the older-than-dirt Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the law governing what the government can and can’t do online. Currently, the 25-year-old law states that “any content stored on a server for more than 180 days is considered ‘abandoned,’ and thus the government does not need a warrant to access it,” reports Ars Technica. In layman’s terms, the law currently states that the Feds can access anything in your Google/Hotmail/Yahoo! account that has been there for longer than six months, even if you’re still using the account. Congress would like to change this. Obama’s DOJ would prefer that they didn’t. Why? Because reforming the law would mean the feds would need a search warrant to compel “disclosure of all stored content.” While this sounds perfectly reasonable to people who have read the Constitution, the DOJ envisions nightmare scenarios like this one: “In order to obtain a search warrant for a particular e-mail account, law enforcement has to establish probable cause to believe that evidence will be found in that particular account. In some cases, this link can be hard to establish.”
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