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US House Republicans: 'End net neutrality or no debt ceiling deal' – report

Leaked document reveals a shedload of anti-Obama demands

Republicans in the US House of Representatives are reportedly including blockage of net neutrality among their laundry list of demands tied to the passage of an increase the government's debt ceiling.

This news comes courtesy of National Review Online, which reports that it received the outline of the GOP bill, which "originated from staff to a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee," and was dated September 24.

Although details of "net neutrality" can be defined in different ways, at its core is the premise that all internet traffic be treated the same, with no throttling of certain types of content or slowdowns for individual web sites and services.

Free-market purists have long argued against regulations which mandate that all traffic must be treated equally when coursing through the intertubes, saying that those who own said tubes should be allowed to manage and price their carriage any way they see fit.

Needless to say, tube-owners such as, say, Comcast and Verizon are against net neutrality regulation, while businesses whose livelihoods depend upon speedy, easy, low-friction – and low-cost – access such as, say, Google and Amazon are pro–net neut.

The Republican party is firmly in the laissez-faire camp, and as National Review Online reports, have included "Blocking Net Neutrality" in a sublist of their debt-ceiling deal entitled "Energy and regulatory reforms to promote economic growth" along with such items as approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, reduction in coal ash regulations, increased offshore drilling and energy production on federal lands, and a clampdown on the Environmental Protection Agency's regulatory powers regarding carbon.

Blocking net neutrality may, however, be a mere bargaining chip in the GOP's pile o' demands. While many of the other items in the leaked list – the authenticity of which, of course, can only be guessed at – are somewhat arcane, the threat of ending net neutrality is an item that might inspire younger, more educated voters to put down their tablets, pick up their smartphones, and call their congresspersons to register their alarm.

"Ending the Dodd Frank bailout fund" and "Altering Disproportion Share Hospitals" may not raise the hackles of young digerati, but choking their access to Hulu and Netflix might. Seeing as how The Youth of America™ is one group which the GOP arguably needs to court as its constituent base ages, compromising on net neutrality may be a bone that the Republican House might toss to the Obama administration.

We'll find out soon enough. According to US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, the government will run out of the money it needs to pay its bills on October 17. ®

Bootnote

Left-leaning Slate summarizes the GOP's debt-ceiling demands as including "a one year delay of Obamacare, Paul Ryan's tax reform, the Keystone XL pipeline, partial repeal of the Clean Air Act, partial repeal of bank regulation legislation, Medicare cuts, cuts in several anti-poverty programs, making it harder to launch medical malpractice lawsuits, more drilling on federal land, blocking net neutrality, and a suite of changes designed to make it harder for regulatory agencies to crack the whip."

Here at The Reg, we purely objective hacks [Ahem...—Ed.] are surprised that the House Republicans didn't add "and a pony!"

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