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The Worst Kind of Obama Nominee


A good bit of the left-wing criticism of President Obama partially misses the mark because it assumes a unilateral presidency where presidents can do what they want. On the other hand, there’s plenty for progressives to criticize about Obama, particularly in his choice of appointments. Take for instance his choice to head the Federal Communications Commission:

President Obama’s nominee to head the Federal Communications Commission told a Senate committee on Tuesday that his experience as the leader of lobbying groups for the cable television and cellphone industries had convinced him that the agency needs to promote competition over regulation.

The nominee, Tom Wheeler, told the Senate Commerce Committee that the F.C.C.’s championing of competition was especially important given Americans’ heavy dependence on communications networks in education, public safety and consumer services.

“Competition is a power unto itself that must be encouraged,” he said. “Competitive markets produce better outcomes than regulated or uncompetitive markets.”

The playing down of the role of regulation could worry Democrats on the committee and advocates of consumer-friendly oversight of industries that are growing rapidly — perhaps too fast in recent years for government overseers to keep track of them.

It is his experience in those industries rather than as a regulator, Mr. Wheeler said, that provides his primary strengths.

Obama’s nomination to head a major regulatory agency who brags about being an anti-regulatory industry lobbyist says a lot about how the president sees the proper role of corporations in government, the tug of war between regulation and corporate control, and the extent to which government should regulate society. He’s clearly part of the pro-corporate, deregulatory wing of Democratic Party that has controlled the party since Carter. We see this in his public lands policy, his education policy, his communications policy, his trade policy. This should be hardly be surprising to anyone in 2013, but it’s another reminder both of the obstacles we face in creating positive change within the Democratic Party. That doesn’t mean we should abandon the best tool we have within the political system, but we have to take control of the party apparatus and policy making decisions from the corporate overlords who have controlled it for 35 years.

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