House of Cards is not the only way Netflix flexed its presence on Capitol Hill in 2013. It’s also using money.
The rental and streaming company rapidly built up its lobbying efforts in 2013. Just four years ago, the company spent $20,000 on lobbying. Last year, it dropped $1.2 million, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. It’s still ranked well below many other computer and Internet companies on lobbying dollars, though.
Netflix is making money for some lawmakers, too. As the Center for Public Integrity points out, a handful of members on the Hill have money invested in the company. Republican Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas owned between $16,002 and $65,000 in company stock, while Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey owned between $15,001 and $50,000.
The company’s lobbying has focused on net neutrality, which would keep Internet providers from giving preferential treatment or fining sites based on how much bandwidth they use. Netflix has a lot to lose or gain in the policy debate. At peak times, Netflix accounts for roughly one-third of North America bandwidth.
A January federal-court ruling has left the status of net-neutrality rules in limbo. The White House, for its part, reaffirmed its support of net neutrality in response this week to a whitehouse.gov petition. And newly proposed legislation in Congress would temporarily keep the rules in place.
Newly proposed bills means a lobbying bonanza, right? Well, it’s unclear which tech companies will actually throw their weight behind the legislation this time around. Google, which has become an Internet provider in its own right, isn’t a lock to put its massive support behind the latest neutrality efforts. But Netflix, with all the cash it dropped in 2013, could position itself as a major power player.
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Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”