Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – You win some, you lose some

capitol_domeDemocrats scored some noteworthy wins today. They pushed the nuclear arms treaty with Russia past a Republican hurdle. They adopted Internet rules that Republicans and some big media companies called unwarranted, excessive and maybe even illegal.

But it’s hard for Extra to call this a good day for Dems. Republicans have promised to unravel everything from Tuesday’s net neutrality decision at the FCC to Dodd-Frank and Obamacare. They’ve pushed the fight over government spending into 2011, when they’ll run the House and have more leverage in the Senate. That means regulators won’t get the extra funds they’ve requested to tighten oversight of Wall Street, as Mary Schapiro lamented to Reuters today.

Lest you think Extra’s too short-sighted, too focused on 2011, consider what could be the most politically significant news of the day — new Census data. Democrats cannot be anything but bummed by the Census showing a population shift from blue states to red ones. It means a redrawing of congressional districts that will likely add Republicans to the House. We won’t bog you down with the details, but just remember it’s the number of House seats that determines a state’s representation in the Electoral College

and it’s the Electoral College that picks the president.

Here are our top stories from Washington today…

Republican-leaning states gain clout from Census

Republican-leaning states in the South and West will gain political clout from new population figures, dealing a blow to President Obama and Democrats that could linger for years. The Census estimates show a population shift from Democratic-leaning states in the Northeast and Midwest to Republican strongholds like Texas, Utah and South Carolina, giving those states more seats in the House of Representatives. The release of the figures kicks off the once-a-decade, state-by-state fight over redrawing congressional lines to ensure each House district represents roughly the same number of people.

For more of this story by John Whitesides, read here.

For a factbox on states that gained clout, click here.

Divided U.S. FCC adopts Internet traffic rules

Communications regulators adopted Internet traffic rules that prevent providers from blocking lawful content but still let them ration access to their networks. The FCC approved the “Open Internet” order after Chairman Julius Genachowski’s plan got the support of fellow Democrats Michael Copps and Mignon Clyburn. The rules aim to strike a balance between the interests of Internet service providers, content companies and consumers, but some industry analysts think a court challenge is still likely.

Pearl Jam to Obama: Don’t change your tune on Web issues

WASHINGTON – Rock bands Pearl Jam and R.E.M., the founder of Craigslist, consumer activists and others who backed Barack Obama’s technology-fueled presidential win told the Illinois Democrat on Thursday that they expect him to return the favor.

USA/They were among more than 100 organizations that sent a letter to Obama, who takes office Jan. 20, urging him to lift “the stranglehold industry lobbyists have had on communications policy, and put the public’s priorities first.”

Citing Obama’s words back to him in bullet points, the letter reminded the president-elect of his campaign support for net neutrality, universal broadband and other web-friendly positions. It referred to an Obama speech at Google headquarters where he vowed to “take a back seat to no one in my commitment to net neutrality.”