During a committee meeting last week, a Democratic lawmaker from California referred to Middle America as “Podunk, USA,” when she became frustrated that the meeting was not more focused on her west coast district.
The remarks by Rep. Anna Eshoo came during a closed-door Energy and Commerce Committee meeting when Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai was discussing the expansion of broadband to rural areas and Eshoo took issue with the direction of the agenda.
Pai contended that eliminating Title II net neutrality rules would benefit places he has visited, such as Parsons, Kan., Elverson, Pa., and Cadillac, Mich.
According to sources who attended the meeting, Eshoo said she wanted Pai to stop talking about “Podunk, USA” and instead address the concerns of the venture capitalists on Sand Hill Road in her district near Palo Alto.
Sources reported negative reactions to Eshoo’s remarks, with one member who represents a flyover state noting that they did not appreciate the term “Podunk,” and claiming that districts in Middle America are as important as those in Silicon Valley.
When contacted for comment, Eshoo’s office declined.
Since experiencing significant losses in the 2016 elections, Democrats have been accused of being out of touch and representing only the interests of coastal elites. As an example, House Democrats reelected Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco as their leader as opposed to Tim Ryan, who represents Youngstown, Ohio.
Chairman Pai has received death threats over the FCC’s plan to reverse Title II net neutrality rules, ending the Obama administration’s policy of treating Internet service providers as utilities.
Pai contends that net neutrality subjected Internet providers to unnecessary regulations, and has made expanding broadband access to rural areas a primary goal of his chairmanship.
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