Last Thursday, in a deeply unpopular move, the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal net neutrality. The Republican decision was opposed by the vast majority of the country, so they tried to sell the idea by misrepresenting the reality of the situation.
In 2014, then-FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler made the announcement that his agency would delay addressing the net neutrality issue until 2015. Republicans immediately cried foul, claiming that the decision was the result of interference from President Obama. The FCC is supposed to be free of influence from the executive branch.
In 2015, the net neutrality ruling was passed, and ensured that internet providers couldn’t choose to throttle access to certain websites and use that control to boost prices. It was a successful attempt to protect the consumers, but the Republicans pretended and continue to pretend that net neutrality was instead some sinister policy through which the government could seize control of the internet.
As usual, the GOP has decided to side with big corporations and support the ability of ISPs to overcharge over the wishes of the American people. Ajit Pai, the Trump-appointed chairman of the FCC painted net neutrality as needless Obama meddling:
“On express orders from the previous White House, the FCC scrapped the tried-and-true, light touch regulation of the Internet and replaced it with heavy-handed micromanagement. It decided to subject the Internet to utility-style regulation designed in the 1930s to govern Ma Bell,” claimed Pai in his official oral statement on the matter.
The thrust of his argument for repealing net neutrality was that the Obama White House had directly interfered with the FCC, imposed new draconian policies, and stifled the internet.
Now, these Republican lies are being exposed for what they are. A new internal report, obtained by Motherboard through a Freedom of Information Act request, shows that the nonpartisan FCC Office of the Inspector General investigated the claims that Obama had meddled with the FCC’s net neutrality process, and discovered them to be false.
“We found no evidence of secret deals, promises, or threats from anyone outside the Commission, nor any evidence of any other improper use of power to influence the FCC decision-making process,” the report concluded.
In other words, the FCC itself had previously discovered that the motivations for repeal that they offered to the public were untrue.
The report is dated August 22, 2016, and Motherboard was unable to get an explanation from the FCC as to why the memo was not made publicly available prior to the Thursday vote, but the optics are certainly unflattering. Had the report been released earlier, the steep climb the Republicans had to surmount in order to repeal net neutrality would have become vastly more challenging.
This bad faith deception is part of a broader Republican effort to push policies by intentionally misrepresenting the implications of their implementation. The tax bill the GOP is currently trying to pass is perhaps the most glaring example. They’re selling it as a tax cute for the middle class and a means of unleashing economic growth. In reality, the most generous assessments predict it will skyrocket the deficit, and eventually saddle the middle class with higher, not lower taxes.
Republicans know that facts have an innately liberal bias, and so they have to go out of their way to construct myths and obscure facts in order to ram through their regressive legislation. It’s a despicable betrayal of the public trust and demonstrates once again how unfit the GOP is to govern.