Not surprising anyone, Federal Communications Commission chair Ajit Pai announced that he plans on leaving his post on Jan. 20 in the coming year. What Pai will do after leaving his government post is anyone’s guess, but I would put all of my money down on something in the private telecommunications lobbying industry. His tenure under Trump has been predictably grotesque in its lathering of corrupt big business largesse and deregulating an already barely regulated telecommunications sector.
Like everyone else in the Trump administration, Pai has lied to Congress, pushed false data about fake successes, received dubious funds from big companies that got preferential treatment, and has been ridiculed throughout the process for being the perverse sociopath he seems to be. He’s also promoted corrupt and criminal individuals for positions of power (den of thieves and all of that). Pai’s most infamous achievement was to end the consumer protections of net neutrality. Like everything else his Republican-controlled FCC did, he supported his decision to do this with false data and under dubious, possibly criminal circumstances. But this was not all Pai accomplished.
Here’s a small list of the ways the American public, or the American consumer, got screwed under Ajit Pai’s leadership:
In the end, Pai’s FCC did what it could to stifle infrastructural growth throughout the country. The grand private investment that the Republican Party and Pai said would happen if the rich just got richer, never happened, and in fact slowed down.
Like every other Republican policy, you could say that Pai’s legacy is not dissimilar from other GOP operators: promises of gold that very quickly turned to coal for consumers and gold for corporations. And just like coal—being equated here to corporate greed and corruption—it’s been subsidized by a Republican-controlled government.
The good news is that Pai will be gone from the FCC. In other sort-of-good but also shakier news, Pai’s ability to do much right now, before Inauguration Day, has been hampered by Republican FCC member Mike O’Reilly’s ill-advised firing by Donald Trump, right before the election. His anti-First Amendment replacement, Nathan Simington, has not yet been confirmed by the Senate and it is unclear if there are the votes to confirm him. As of Dec. 1, the FCC has a 2-2 deadlock between Democrats and Republicans, but if Simington is not confirmed, Biden will begin with a 2-1 majority on the FCC, allowing him control of the important government agency at a time when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is working to stifle any and all Biden appointments.