Post-election tech-policy forecast: Nothing
A few dozen Americans found out last night that they're losing their jobs. That's about the difference the election will make in tech policy.
As Ezra Klein wrote at greater length this morning, Republican control of the House combined with a continued Democratic majority in the Senate (I didn't write "control" because nobody controls the upper house anymore) in the current political climate is a recipe for very little getting done.
So if anything's going to happen with the technology-related political issues I've noted here--the broken patent system, net neutrality, your privacy online, or just the way the convoluted tax code has turned into a protection racket for the makers of tax-prep software--you're better off looking to regulatory agencies or the courts than to Congress.
Those other actors can do a fair amount by themselves (note to the Federal Communications Commission: Now it really is up to you all to do something about net neutrality), but the changes they can accomplish on their own tend to be smaller and more easily reversed.
(12:37 p.m. Cecilia Kang's latest post suggests that we could see bipartisan movement on Internet privacy. But I'll believe a bill increasing government regulation over a sector of the economy when I see it passed by a House now occupied by many more small-government types.)
There is one Congressional firing that I want to note by name: that of Rep. Rick Boucher (D.-Va.), defeated by Republican Morgan Griffith. Boucher has been consistently clueful about tech topics for far longer than I've been writing this column. In recent years, Boucher often failed to translate his good intentions into legislation, but he knew what he was talking about and didn't pluck talking points from the briefings of Hollywood lobbyists. That's more than I can say for a great many legislators.
The fact that you had tech-policy people who rarely agree with each other on anything agreeing that his departure is a setback should tell you something.
Have a different forecast for tech policy? The comments are yours.
| November 3, 2010; 10:29 AM ET
Categories: Policy and politics
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