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A Coup By the FCC

President Obama’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has fittingly chosen the darkest day in 372 years to impose potentially devastating regulations on the up-to-now free market Internet. 

As the moon was eclipsed earlier today, Congress and the American people will be eclipsed by this regulatory coup d'état -- orchestrated by the White House -- that will substitute the judgment of three Democrats at the FCC for the legitimate democratic process.

Starting today, the Internet will be regulated, despite the fact that network neutrality regulations have almost no support in Congress, where Rep. Ed Markey’s legislation, which aimed to do by legitimate means what the FCC is now doing surreptitiously, has just 27 co-sponsors.

Starting today, the Internet will be regulated, despite the fact that on November 2 that American people let out a collective scream against big government and intrusive regulations, and the further fact that all 95 candidates who signed the Progressive Change Campaign Committee’s pledge to promote network neutrality regulation lost. That’s 0 for 95.

Starting today, the Internet will be regulated despite the fact the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously in "Comcast v. FCC" that such regulations have no legitimate basis in law.

The solution is clear. Congress must make it a top priority to overturn these regulations early in 2011, preferably with a Congressional Review Act Resolution of Disapproval that can avoid filibuster and cleanly invalidate the order. The resolution can be forced onto the Senate floor with as few as 30 senators signing a discharge petition.

Two letters from Senate Republicans show that even before the cavalry of new conservative senators arrive to join their ranks, there are already more than the 30 required to force a vote. The main letter was led by Senator John Ensign and had 29 signatures -- plus several others who would have signed but weren't available in this hectic lame duck session. (Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), a supporter of net neutrality regulation who nonetheless recognizes the FCC does not have the power to implement it against the will of Congress, sent her own letter.)

Not only is the imposition of government's heavy hand on the economy's most vibrant sector at stake, but so are the basic principles of our democratic republic. If these principles are discarded, the door will be open for a breathtaking series of executive branch power grabs that will leave our society and its constitutional system of government unrecognizable.

Congress must do its job and stop the FCC.

Phil Kerpen is vice president for policy at Americans for Prosperity, which is fighting this FCC power grab at www.NoInternetTakeover.com.

Phil Kerpen is the founder of American Commitment Action Fund, on the web at www.BookerFAIL.com.