Abused by the Obama administration, T-Mobile now wants the administration to abuse others

Seton Motley President, Less Government
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President Barack Obama and his Administration do not pick winners and losers. They have instead made picking losers at the expense of winners an economy-killing art form.

The Obama Administration has time and again rewarded losers — private companies who are failing and/or have given Obama campaign contributions — with regulatory favoritism, and money robbed from the private sector’s winners. The examples are myriad.

Solyndra solar non-energy was already going broke before the Administration gave them a dime, and the Administration knew it. But Solyndra owners had contributed more than $100,000 to Obama, so the Administration gave them $531 million of our coin.

General Motors (GM) and Chrysler were headed for bankruptcy. They were, amongst other problems, weighted down by absurdly over-expensive union contracts. But bankruptcy (ordinarily) vacates union contracts – and unions are hay-yuge Obama and Democrat contributors and supporters. So Obama kicked up the auto bailout to $85 billion – and commandeered control of the bankruptcy processes, breaking and running roughshod over bankruptcy law.

Illegally, the unions kept their contracts. Illegally, the unions were moved to the head of the post bankruptcy payback line. And on, and on, and….

The Obama Administration – picking losers at the expense of winners for maximum political benefit.


Companies, of course, take note of this abusive, capricious manipulation of the private sector. Especially when they are on the receiving end of a Obama Administration regulatory beating. T-Mobile was one such Administration victim.

Deutsche Telecom — T-Mobile’s overseas owner — wanted to sell T-Mobile to AT&T. AT&T wanted to buy. Win-win. Except…the Obama Administration became one giant impediment.

The Administration’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski publicly asserted his opposition. The Administration’s Eric Holder-led Justice Department sued to block the sale. Finally, after a year-plus of abusive delay, AT&T and T-Mobile had to withdraw their merger request.

Again, why the federal government holds such multi-branch, multi-jurisdictional sway over the Internet and telecommunications sector remains light years beyond us. But, sadly, it does – and T-Mobile just experienced it first hand.

But T-Mobile learned the wrong lesson. Rather than try to end, or at least avoid, the government pummelings – they are now looking to have the Obama Administration pummel someone else on their behalf.


Behold Verizon – T-Mobile’s intended government victim. Verizon is looking to purchase spectrum —the “airwaves” cell phone companies need for their wireless networks — from a cable company consortium.

And T-Mobile’s Steve Sharkey is out with a blog post calling on the Obama Administration to screw Verizon in exactly the same manner that the Administration just screwed them.

Verizon would have you believe its effort to purchase the cable companies’ Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) licenses in the 1.7 GHz band is but a “run of the mill” set of transactions that should be rubber-stamped by the FCC. Not true. These deals are anything but routine and, if granted, would unduly tip the scales in favor of the largest wireless carrier at a critical juncture in the mobile broadband industry…..

The simple answer is that Verizon’s effort to lock down the last remaining block of currently available LTE-appropriate spectrum should be denied. By doing so, the FCC would advance its pro-competitive goals for the wireless industry and create an environment in which the licenses could be made available to others who can put them to work immediately for the benefit of consumers.

Contrast this call for government-conduit battering with what this guy’s boss – Deutsche Telecom CEO Rene Obermann – said in Congressional testimony about the AT&T-T-Mobile merger.

…I firmly believe that this transaction is the best possible outcome – not only for DT, T-Mobile USA and AT&T – but for our customers and for wireless competition and innovation in the United States…. 

It not only advances Deutsche Telekom’s business strategy, but also directly addresses T-Mobile USA’s strategic challenges and delivers significant benefits to T-Mobile customers and wireless competition generally.


So, when T-Mobile benefits from a private sector transaction, the government should get out of the way. But, when a competitor benefits from a private sector transaction, the government should interlope and blockade. This isn’t a free market – this is abusive and capricious government interventionism.

Private companies should know better than to actively ask for it. Private companies like T-Mobile – who were themselves just victimized by it – certainly should.

Seton Motley is the president of Less Government.