"Since the force that is the Phoenix Center awakened 17 years ago, you’ve offered policymakers rigorous economic analysis and legal acumen second to none. Reading Phoenix Center publications always gives me a new hope that common sense and logic will rule the day in tech policy. Whenever shoddy reasoning enters the public dialogue, your scholars strike back and return to the facts—elegant weapons for a more civilized age. You are the rebels seeking to contain the government’s regulatory empire."
— FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai
On December 1, 2015, the Phoenix Center held its fifteenth Annual U.S. Telecoms Symposium to another standing-room crowd. The theme of this year’s Symposium was Regulatory Credibility and the FCC and the discussions were both informative and lively.
The Symposium began with a presentation of recent research by Phoenix Center Chief Economist Dr. George Ford. Among other topics, Dr. Ford focused on our paper Eroding the Rule of Law: Regulation as Cooperative Bargaining at the FCC, which details how regulatory agencies are increasingly engaging in “issue bundling” with the firms they regulate—that is, when the regulator and the regulated make a deal to combine a variety of unrelated issues in exchange for regulatory relief. Two consequences of issue bundling are the weakening of legal precedent and the near unbridled expanse of regulatory power
To explore this growing practice in greater detail, the first panel of the Symposium was entitled “Regulatory Revival and its Effect on the Communications Industry.” This panel was comprised of Dr. Tim Brennan, Professor of Economics – UMBC and former Chief Economist – Federal Communications Commission; Jeff Lanning, Vice President of Federal Regulatory Affairs – CenturyLink; Frank Louthan, Equity Research Associate – Raymond James Financial; and Dr. Hal Singer, Senior Fellow – Progressive Policy Institute.
Building on this discussion, our next panel was entitled “Regulatory Credibility, the Rule of Law and Potential Legislative Remedies.” For this panel we were joined by Robert Quinn, Senior Vice President, Federal Regulatory and Chief Privacy Officer – AT&T; Bryan Tramont, Managing Partner – Wilkinson Barker Knauer, LLP and former Chief of Staff – Federal Communications Commission; David Redl, Chief Counsel – House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, House Energy and Commerce Committee; and Mary Brown, Senior Director, Government Affairs – Cisco.
The Symposium ended with the presentation of the Phoenix Center’s Annual Jerry B. Duvall Public Service Award to FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai. The Duvall Award does not seek to recognize the recipient’s personal politics; rather, the Duvall Award goes to the policymaker who most demonstrated the “political courage in, and contribution of analytical rigor to, the United States telecoms policy debate.” Given Commissioner Pai’s constant vigilance to adhere to legal precedent and ensure due process during one of the most tumultuous years in telecom policy in recent memory, we could think of nobody who epitomized this standard more in 2015.
Lawrence J. Spiwak – Welcome and Overview
Dr. George Ford – Presentation of Recent Research
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai – Full Remarks
Tuesday, December 1, 2015
Regulatory Credibility and the FCC
Welcome Remarks and Introduction
Lawrence J. Spiwak
President, Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal & Economic Public Policy Studies
Presentation of Recent Research:
Dr. George Ford
Chief Economist, Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal & Economic Public Policy Studies
Regulatory Revival and its Effect on the Communications Industry
Regulatory Credibility, the Rule of Law and Potential Legislative Remedies
Keynote and 2015 Jerry B. Duvall Public Service Award Ceremony
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai