FCC Plays Dumb, Points Fingers Over Broadband Tax
FCC Disavows Idea as Press Notices New Levy
As we noted back in March
, our new national broadband plan involves reconfiguring the Universal Service Fund (USF) so that money paid into it is put toward broadband expansion (currently the funds only address school broadband and rural phone connectivity). It also involved increasing consumer broadband fees, estimated to be between $1 to $5 per broadband connection, in order to pay for it.
Though we've been discussing the idea since March, for whatever reason nobody apparently realized this tax even existed until this summer, when both progressive consumer groups and both parties alike began slamming the idea
-- especially given the USF's long history of fraud and abuse.
With the tax suddenly making headlines, and it being election season, the folks at the FCC suddenly can't run away from the idea fast enough. The Hill
has a really amusing story highlighting how despite the fact that Republicans and Democrats alike voted for the idea, they're now all denying they approved it and blaming its creation on the other party:
Neil Grace, a spokesman for Chairman Julius Genachowski, said the commission only made the proposal "following the urging of Republican Commissioners and members of Congress." "The Chairman remains unconvinced that including broadband is the right approach," he said. Robert McDowell, the only Republican on the commission when the proposal was floated earlier this year, flatly rejected that he ever supported the idea. "I have never suggested taxing broadband Internet access," he told The Hill.
Except that the additional levies on consumers have always been a part of the broadband plan (page 148, page 170) and it has been part of the FCC's ongoing "USF reform," which all commissioners ("who me?" McDowell included) voted for after much lobbying support from the likes of AT&T, Google and Sprint. Last month consumer group Free Press lambasted the tax
and the expansion of USF funds without first reforming what has long essentially been an unaccountable slush fund for carriers big and small.
McDowell is of course first in line to head the FCC if there's a White House party shift, so it's especially beneficial for him to pretend he has no idea what anybody is talking about. It's particularly amusing because when this was called an "increase in the subscriber line charge" or "expanding the USF contributions base" nobody batted an eyelash. Call it a tax during an election season, and suddenly everybody at the FCC is ultra-concerned about the consumer's wallet.
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Mount Airy, MD
Schools Red Herring How many years have we been paying for connecting schools to broadband? Isn't this done yet? And why is it a federal problem? Why shouldn't state/local school taxes pay for this stuff since it is their problem?
Romney/Ryan 2012 - Put a couple of mature adults in charge.
Re: Schools Red Herring The problem with the FCC, FDA etc is that the previous administration appointed their cronies to the key positions. These guys are out to make sure that the government and anything it does fails. No different to Alan Greenspan, who made decisions based on his no government or regulation Ayn Rand creed. The inevitable end result spoke for itself.
Cities and localities have no money. Remember, unlike the rest of the developed world, our tax model is centered around Personal Property and state income taxes and the archaic county based system. Put simply, a county or city is not able to realize economies of scale, as they are overseas, where everything is on a state level.
Why do you think our states are in the red? Teachers, Police, Fire? Dead Wrong. It's because the tax revenue from personal property taxes and state income taxes tanked the second the economy went into recession.
However, to this day, not one single Republican has accepted this fact. Instead, the continue to blame and scapegoat the aforementioned.
Re: Schools Red Herring
said by Telco:/sarcasm on Of course this didn't happen with the current administration. /sarcasm off
The problem with the FCC, FDA etc is that the previous administration appointed their cronies to the key positions.
Let the free market decide! If Aunt Myrtle wants broadband in her farm house, she can pay for it just like the rest of us.