The Federal Communications Commission’s vote last week to regulate the Internet shows a dangerous and reckless disregard for the free market principles that are the engine of the U.S. economy.
As a member of Congress and a businessman for over 30 years, I strongly oppose FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s unprecedented plan to reclassify the Internet as a public utility.
A massive layer of government regulation — 332 pages to be exact — not only threatens the online freedoms enjoyed by Americans across the country but stifles the innovation and entrepreneurship that is the lifeblood of the digital economy.
As I reminded Chairman Wheeler in a letter last month, the Internet’s rapid proliferation is the result of exceptional American innovation, free of government intrusion. Government regulation of the Internet is all too common in countries like China, Iran and North Korea. That is not a model for America.
The Progressive Policy Institute estimated that treating the Internet like a phone service, as the FCC voted to do last week, would trigger new taxes and fees up to $15 billion a year, including $67 for each wired service and $72 for wireless in state and local taxes.
I agree wholeheartedly with FCC commissioner Ajit Pai, who voted against this scheme, when he said the proposal "mimics ObamaCare” both in substance and process and represents “a solution that won’t work to a problem that doesn’t exist.”
The Internet is working just fine – it has been for the nearly two decades since its inception. As the saying goes – “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Mark Cuban, a successful Internet businessman, put it more succinctly when he was asked about the FCC’s plan last week: “That will (foul) everything up."
It is telling that Chairman Wheeler refused to testify before Congress about his plan before he put it to the Commission for a vote.
It is also telling that a Democrat FCC Commissioner called on Chairman Wheeler to roll back parts of this sweeping plan so the Commissioners and the public could have more time to consider it.
It is ironic that the FCC’s own mission statement on its own website says the Commission is supposed to be tasked with “promoting competition, innovation and investment in broadband services and facilities.”
The plan approved last week will have exactly the opposite effect.
I have a responsibility to my constituents to provide oversight of the FCC and ensure that its actions do not harm the very people it is supposed to serve. However, I fear that is precisely what will happen as a result of the FCC’s action last week.
That is why I support a resolution of disapproval to overturn this outrageous power grab by FCC bureaucrats. Under the Congressional Review Act, Congress has expedited authority to stop federal regulations after they are issued. It's important that Congress pass this resolution even if President Obama vetoes it.
It should also be noted that President Obama has expressed support for just the type of regulatory frame work approved by the FCC last week.
In classic Orwellian double speak, the FCC and President Obama have cynically dubbed this proposal ‘network neutrality.’ Make no mistake: there is nothing neutral about it!
“Net neutrality” is nothing more than cynical political spin that Don Draper of the TV show "Mad Men" would be proud of.
America has always been a beacon of freedom, and we must continue to lead as a model for other nations in this digital age. At a time when many Americans feel their freedoms are being threatened by government overreach, the last thing we need is a new layer of government regulation that hinders access to a free and open Internet.
Republican Vern Buchanan represents Florida's 16th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is currently serving his fifth term in the House of Representatives and is Florida's only member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. He also serves on the House Budget Committee.