That money talks in Washington is conventional wisdom for a reason. Corporations, industries, and a handful of extraordinarily wealthy individuals spend big bucks on campaigns and on lobbying not for fun, but because they expect to get something back in return. And while adding up all those expenditures is comparatively straightforward, finding out who gets how much back has been harder… until now. A new study finds that billions of dollars might go into D.C., but trillions are coming back out.
The academic who coined the term “net neutrality,” and who has been among its most vocal advocates, is now running for office in New York. Tim Wu hopes to become lieutenant governor after what he describes as a “start-up campaign,” and he’s running with a tech-focused message: that New York needs to act against the merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable.
Broadband competition in the United States stinks. One alternative is for local entities — cities and municipalities — to create their own public networks, when big companies like Comcast don’t or won’t serve them. But in 40% of states, there are laws on the books implicitly or explicitly forbidding public broadband. This week, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler appears to be making good on his earlier remarks and is directly challenging those state laws.
Somehow, a political group Jeff happens to disagree with got hold of his e-mail address, and started sending him junk mail. Then another got his address. And another. He’s not sure how he got on the lists, but he wants right-wing groups to stop sending him stuff and sharing his e-mail address with each other. How?
Political robocalls annoy the hell out of just about everyone, but on Election Day Eve this year in New England, things somehow got even worse. A barrage of last-minute automated calls to voters in New Hampshire and part of Massachusetts actually took down Comcast’s phone network. “Between 5:30 pm and 7pm, whenever I tried to call out on Comcast VOIP the phone either would not dial or there would be a message saying all circuits were busy,” writes David, who lives in the affected area. “I know – I should cancel the landline!” Only if the robocallers have your number.
Wondering how that Target boycott is going? Here’s a video of an in-store protest complete with dance routine and Improv Everywhere type theatrics, set to the tune of Depeche Mode’s “People are People.”
The controversial immigration law passed by Arizona’s government back in April has lead to over 20 organizations (including cities, towns, school districts, churches and universities) joining a travel boycott of the state. But is it hurting business? Too soon to tell, says USAToday.
Online news site The Daily Beast is apparently tired of this whole “floundering economy” thing, so it got more than a dozen economists and historians to come together and issue a manifesto yesterday calling on the U.S. government to “reboot America.” By the end of the day, the number of experts supporting the manifesto increased to more than 40. They argue that the government has to help return lost purchasing power to the unemployed and must use tax cuts and stimulus to boost overall demand, or we’ll never make it out of this slump.
It may not feel like it, but it turns out that you are paying really low taxes right now, the lowest in 60 years, in fact, according to a new analysis of Federal data.
Sue Lowden, a senate candidate in Nevada, says if you want to combat health care costs you should consider bartering with your doctor. In an appearance on a local political talk show yesterday, she clarified her proposal:
“The Republican Party is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the insurance industry.” So said Rep. Anthony Weiner of Brooklyn last month in front of Congress. As we move towards a historic vote on health care reform, let’s take a moment to throw some gas on the fire and revisit some of the awesomely incendiary rhetoric of this statesman on revamping our health care system. Now this a healthy health care debate!
According to the Wall Street Journal, Senator Chris Dodd, a Democrat from Connecticut, has offered to abandon the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) proposal in exchange for Republican support on other legislation. Nobody is saying anything official right now, but the WSJ reports that “the offer is conditional on the creation of a stronger consumer protection division within another federal agency.”
In case you missed it, Senate Democrats managed to succeed at their goal of pushing through some sort of health care reform bill before Christmas Day–the chamber voted this morning 60-39 along party lines and passed the bill. Up next: the Senate and House have to get together and negotiate some final version. If you want to compare what’s in the House and Senate versions, the New York Times has put together an excellent side-by-side comparison tool.
Senate Democrats have just hammered out a new version of their proposed health care reform proposal, and as a compromise they’ve removed the part about requiring a government-run insurance program. The public option is still part of the proposal, but now it will only be triggered if the private sector doesn’t create some new national nonprofit policies as spelled out by the government.
If you live in Chicago, New York City, or Philadelphia, expect to start hearing some noise about Walmart in the coming months. The retailer has announced that it’s going to “step up efforts to mobilize local political support” so that it can finally open stores in those cities, reports the Financial Times.
Yesterday the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced some findings from its study of the problematic Chinese drywall, which 1,900 Florida homeowners have complained stinks and makes people sick. The commission told the Associated Press that “no connections have been made yet,” but that they’re doing more tests—which means there’s still no definitive answer on who should be held financially responsible if the homes have to be gutted and repaired, which the Wall Street Journal says could cost as much as $25 billion dollars.
In the net neutrality debate, there are a surprising number of grassroots organizations (well, surprising to me at any rate) that have filed statements against the FCC’s recent draft of rules. Matthew Lasar at Ars Technica just published an interesting article where he looks at some of these groups and tries to figure out whether AT&T is secretly influencing them, or whether they really do think net neutrality will hurt those they represent–frequently minority groups–in the long run.
Earlier this week, a group of 70 law professors from universities across the country released a 16-page Statement of Support (pdf) detailing why they’re in favor of the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Act. You can read the statement yourself via the link above, but we’ve summarized them below.