Robin Groulx / Axios

The long-anticipated rollback of net neutrality rules has officially begun. The FCC voted along party lines on Thursday to formally consider Chairman Ajit Pai's plan to scrap the legal foundation for the rules and to ask the public for comments on the future of prohibitions on blocking, throttling and paid prioritization.

Why it matters: This is the next step in the decade-long political fight over how to regulate the networks that have redefined politics, culture and the economy. Silicon Valley and telecom giants have opposing views of how web traffic should be treated on the way to reaching consumers — an increasing issue now that digital content is supplanting nearly every other format. The FCC has already been flooded with heated comments from both sides of the battle.

What's next:

  • The FCC will take comments from the public about the proposal, setting up a final vote that Pai has said he hopes will come later this year. That could be complicated if Democrat Mignon Clyburn leaves the commission when her term ends in June. With only two members, the commission would lack a quorum.
  • Expect significant pushback from Democratic lawmakers and progressive groups, who were out in force protesting the proposal before Thursday's FCC meeting.
  • Congressional Republicans hope today's vote will push their Democratic colleagues to make a legislative deal on the issue — but right now, that seems unlikely.

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Coronavirus surge is sinking consumer confidence

Data: Hamilton Place Strategies, CivicScience; Chart: Axios Visuals

The rise in coronavirus cases in certain parts of the U.S. is stunting confidence across the country, a crop of new reports show.

Driving the news: After stalling during the previous two-week period, overall economic sentiment declined for the first time in two months, according to the Economic Sentiment Index, a biweekly survey from data firm CivicScience and Hamilton Place Strategies (HPS).

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Obama: Trump is "jealous of COVID's media coverage."
  2. Health: Mask mandates help control the rise in coronavirus hospitalizations. Hospitals face a crush.
  3. Business: Coronavirus testing is a windfall. Winter threat spurs new surge of startup activity.
  4. Media: Pandemic causes TV providers to lose the most subscribers ever.
  5. World: Putin mandates face masks.

The GOP's monstrous math problem

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Republicans, win or lose next week, face a big — and growing — math problem.

The state of play: They're relying almost exclusively on a shrinking demographic (white men), living in shrinking areas (small, rural towns), creating a reliance on people with shrinking incomes (white workers without college degrees) to survive.