I thought that the Obamessiah & the Democrats were going to get rid of special interests!
Google ready to pursue its agenda in Washington
Its employees supported Obama and four Googlers served on his transition team. Now the Internet giant hopes to win support for so-called network neutrality and expanding high-speed Internet access.
By Jim Puzzanghera and Jessica Guynn
6:18 PM PST, January 23, 2009
Reporting from Washington — Another inauguration took place in Washington this week -- Google Inc. officially became a political power player.
In October, Google was only hours from being sued by the Justice Department as a Web-search monopolist. Today, less than three years after it made its first Washington hire, the Internet giant is poised to capitalize on its backing of President Obama and pursue its agenda in the nation's capital.
Google's executives and employees overwhelmingly supported Obama's candidacy, contributing more money than all but three companies or universities. And only DreamWorks employees gave more toward inauguration festivities.
Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt campaigned for Obama and was one of four Googlers on his transition team. He is now as likely as any corporate chieftain to get his calls to the White House returned.
At the top of the company's policy priorities are two that consumer advocates largely champion. First, it wants to expand high-speed Internet access so people can use its Web services more often. It also is pushing for so-called network neutrality: prohibitions on telecommunications companies charging websites for faster delivery of their content.
"Google is not just a benign corporate entity. It has a variety of special interests," said Jeff Chester, the executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, who has sparred with Google over data-privacy issues. "They're in a great position to push their agenda through with the support of the president and the Democrats in Congress."
But Google's newfound political ties heighten concerns about its grip on the online advertising market. The company could play better defense against strong competitors trying to curb its influence.
Last fall, Justice Department lawyers, who had been lobbied heavily by Microsoft Corp. and large telecommunications companies, were about to sue Google on antitrust grounds. They wanted to block its controversial search-advertising partnership with Yahoo Inc., but Google abandoned the deal rather than fight in court.
Competitors worry about Google's close relationship with the Obama administration, said Bill Whalen, a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.
"The question going forward is: Will Google turn into just another business entity looking for favors in Washington, or will it manage to keep the 767 flying at 30,000 feet above the political din?" he said, a playful reference to the Google founders' private plane.
As I've said numerous times, the negative connotation of "special interest" should not be assigned to private enterprises (individually or groups of people in business together) that are seeking them, but rather on the government officials who continuously seek to increase their power so they can have this very influence over individuals (or groups of people in business together).
The amount of money spent lobbying our government is not an indication of the power of businesses, but the government. And, for many companies, their lobbying representatives in D.C. and state capitols around the country are in some cases more strategic to their future than their R&D and business development organizations.
ARC: St Wendeler