The close ties between the Federal Communications Commission and the Obama Administration were plain to see Tuesday morning, when FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski delivered a speech from daily deals site LivingSocial's Washington, D.C. headquarters.
Like President Obama, his friend from law school, who held a town hall at LinkedIn's Silicon Valley office on Monday, Genachowski seems to be hoping that the star power of a popular Internet company will give his broadband policies the boost they've needed in the two years since he was named chairman. "It's no accident I'm giving this speech here," he said.
Throughout the speech, LivingSocial and one of its better-known clients, local bakery Cake Love, served as concrete examples of Genachowski's message that high-speed Internet, both wired and wireless, will transform the economy and bring more jobs to America, if legislators and regulators make the right moves.
This combination of Internet and jobs is a familiar theme for Genachowski, and it's one that Obama has embraced recently as well. His American Jobs Act borrows from the spectrum auction bill sponsored by Sens. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Tex.
As Genachowski built his argument for how the Internet "has enabled as much economic growth as the Industrial Revolution," he also ratcheted up the Democratic Party's call for passage of Rockefeller's spectrum bill, which authorizes the FCC to hold voluntary spectrum auctions and reallocates spectrum for the build out of a public safety network.
"The biggest step we can take is voluntary spectrum auctions," said Genachowski. "It's a step Congress can take to unleash investment, create jobs, and fund the public safety commitment."
But Congress has yet to act on spectrum legislation. Even the 10th anniversary of 9/11, which Rockefeller leaned on in his own lobbying for his bill, couldn't get the legislation passed. Though Rockefeller's bill moved out of his committee, it has yet to make it to the floor of the Senate, and the Republicans who control the House aren't likely to be moved by Genachowski's pleas for action.