Dr. Medulla wrote:A curiosity speculation based on Hitler Kenyan coming out in favour of net neutrality yesterday. Does the combination of losing the Senate and being in his last two years push him to the more "progressive" wing of the party? That is, there is little value to playing nice with the Republicans now, so does he start catering to the dopey idealists who voted for him the first time around? Running up to the next election, it's a way of distinguishing his party from theirs. I dunno, just musing out loud, but I'm intrigued by the idea of politicians who are freed from electoral strategy and kowtowing, whether they become seemingly more principled or lameducks.
No. Absolutely not. He will never change the way he operates, because his hard-wiring has been so completely consistent from Day 1. He staked his entire preznidential legacy to several key policy flanks.
-- The ACA, so he will continue to protect that one vigorously.
-- Immigration reform/amnesty. Although he's been maddeningly inconsistent with that with all the deportations. Since Boehner won't bring up the bill the Senate passed he will go right ahead with the Executive actions and dare the House to impeach him over it.
-- That "Grand Bargain" shit sandwich gutting the safety net. He will continue making quixotic conciliatory gestures and make the first move offering up Social Security cuts...but perhaps knowing in the back of his head that the GOP caucus is so unruly they are even less likely to bring something out of committee (it's still goddamn infuriating, though, because it just means precedent gets reinforced for Preznit Hillary to attempt the same :hmph: ).
-- Massive infrastructure investment and aping Eisenhower on remaking the transportation system (high-speed rail, etc.) in his image. Might be the "Mr. Amtrak" Biden effect making its singular mark, since the VP's such a total and politically lifelong infrastructure nerd. That obviously was stalled in Congress but his aggro at precedent-setting has been consistent from Day 1.
-- Alarmingly--a new set of international job-killing trade agreements. Please god no...but I doubt we can stop that one because the WH has rigged the secrecy around it to act with near-impunity.
-- Toughening environmental regs, making climate change a driving political agenda, encouraging alt. energy investment (that part dovetails with the infrastructure nerd thing). Obviously jack shit done about that and all the climate deniers now in firm control of Congress, but I think he'll actually use the veto pen with impunity on that one the next 2 years whereas he'll probably just sit on his hands for some other terrible things Congress passes.
-- And one addendum-by-circumstance since '08...protecting the Voting Rights Act and protecting against all this Voter ID bullshit going up in the red states. One of the few progressive things he's actually led from the front on. Look at the way Attorney General Holder has been in total "I dare you to fuck with me on this" with Congress and the Supremes. Which is unequivocally welcome behavior. And clear to see why...black prez., black AG, black woman
nominee for next AG where he's basically giving Congress a poison pill: either confirm Lynch, or your arch-nemesis Holder is staying on.
An odd and somewhat ideologically contradictory slate of legacy items. He's anal-retentively set in his ways, from these key planks to the security state to the grotesque Bush II continuation of war policy to that "lead from behind" aloofness on social issues. For that bucket list and his very quirky interpretations of them he's fully engaged, whereas he just isn't at all on nearly everything else except for the under-board secrecy stuff. I honestly wonder if it's some sort of clinical OCD that drives him like this which will be fascinating study for a few generations of biographers. Either that or he considers the radical centrist Harvard Law Review the greatest job he ever held and the greatest job that ever was.
Net neutrality is different. He didn't appoint most of the FCC chairs because they have set 10-year terms and are somewhat outside of the White House's thumb. That idiotic chairman who is so flagrantly in the tank for Comcast that he attends corporate fetes and almost dares the White House to complain about conflicts of interest is pretty much dead to him. The White House runs a tight ship about officials going off-the-reservation (somewhat good because it's kept a short leash on officials doing scandalous things, somewhat bad because of the extreme secrecy), and the fact that the Bush-appointee chairs want to throw it in their faces publicly with these nonsensical fast-lane/slow-lane proposals that have--from the outsized vitriol expressed in the comment periods--struck a high-profile nerve with the public, makes them avowed enemies of the WH. Obama didn't have a firm stand on this issue at the start, which meant that he was quite likely to just side with Wall Street as is his wont. Now it's personal, and now it's openly provocative action vs. openly provocative action. From his standpoint mass public protest is because of in-house unrest he can't control grates because it's one thing within the Executive Branch he can't keep control over. So he's wielding the "internet as re-classified public utility" killshot as a threat. I don't know what'll happen with that; I suspect political dealing will just defer it so no action is taken this term and everyone gets to save face. But the fact it has come to these threats is--inadvertently--a good thing. It sets a precedent of high public investment in the decision and for the public utility threat. Although I'm still the pessimist that corporate interests are going to win out. Maybe not in as much totality as the first proposal, but the FCC = Comcast and Verizon and I don't expect any Preznit to substantially change that.
Ultimately I think this is going to fragment at the state level just like Obamacare has. You'll have blue states and blue cities deciding they've has enough of this shit and start inviting more Google Fiber-esque installations, municipal Wi-Fi, busting up the municipal 1-cable-provider-per-area franchise monopolies to open up competition, etc. and dare the Supreme Court to stop them. That's bad news for Comcast, Time Warner, et al. who are seeing their business get more and more singularly dependent on Internet from the cable TV cord-cutting effect. But that's always been seen as a high-risk to their ultimate survival because they stopped investing in new infrastructure so long ago. Jesus...I'm a cord-cutter now too with no landline and just Comcast basic Internet (which I'll admit is pretty fast and reliable) sets me back $75 per month...whereas adjacent towns with 2 cable franchises get about $35 per month for the exact same service. Google doesn't even want to be a utility but they get so much leverage from these Google Fiber municipal installations that they're just going hog-wild with it and will figure out how to justify or sell that business long-term later. Right now they're too well-motivated to kill Comcast/Time Warner with a thousand cuts because they bought off the FCC in-total and left no commissioners for Google to buy off.
So, same as it ever was...the blue states and the pockets of blue around the cities will have second- or first-world Internet to go with their overall holding-steady second- or first-world standard of living. And the Deep South and swing states that get wiped out twice a decade by GOP flips in the governor's mansion and state legislature will regress to the third-world AOL era and price the middle class out of broadband entirely.
Keystone XL I'm not sure about. I get the impression the WH is at war with the State Department over similar OCD control issues...too many non-appointee bureaucrats not towing the company line and going off-the-reservation. If it weren't for that I think it would've been approved years ago. He seems to be running out the clock as much as possible given that the particular officials publicly cheerleading about it are likewise folks he can't outright fire. So then it's up to Hillary-in-Chief to approve. It's a little encouraging that in last week's Election Postmortem press conference he actually said it for the first time: "It's so Canada can export to China...it doesn't do a damn thing for fuel prices, and we pay for it and get nothing out of it." Which is encouraging because everyone with half a brain already knows this, but it's been well-hidden from everyone else. If he keeps repeating that talking point and it succeeds at cranking up the outrage machine enough that some (not all but some) Teabaggers are going to get caught wavering on it. Watch attention whores like Ted Cruz start to contradict themselves on Keystone for 114th Congress action items if the more restive elements of the base start saying "Really...you're spending my goddamn tax dollars to help faggy Canada? LET'S BOMB HOCKEY!
". Operation Chaos, etc. And who knows...maybe Obama is pissed at Uncle Steve over something and is sending an "OBEY!" message to America's Hat using this as leverage. But it's still a run-out-the-clock maneuver, so all bets are off with Preznit Hillary and how much the Chinese have already bought her off enough over getting their manifest destiny cheap export oil.