Today, the Obama administration officially published the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) so-called net neutrality rules in the Federal Register. These rules would undo a decade of free-market, hands-off Internet policy that has made the Internet the greatest engine of economic growth, creativity, and innovation the world has ever seen. They would set us down a path to reducing the Internet into a government-regulated, government-controlled public utility. The effective date is November 20, 2011. The House has already voted to overturn the rules. The Senate now has two months to do the same – and they must.
A recent Tarrance Group poll found that 74 percent of Americans believe the regulatory burden is too high in this country. Moreover, 65 percent of voters – and 67 percent of Democrats – oppose agencies regulating without the approval of Congress. And that is precisely what’s going on.
President Barack Obama, infamously promised – at Google headquarters – “I will take a back seat to no one in my commitment to net neutrality.” He recently bragged about bypassing Congress to get his way, saying: “Until Nancy Pelosi is speaker again, I'd like to work my way around Congress.”
Free from regulation, the Internet has been a bright spot in our weak economy, with tech sector unemployment at just 3.3 percent. The net neutrality order will start us down the path to crippling it with regulations. A study from NYU found the rule will destroy between 100,000 and 200,000 jobs.
And the end goal is even more extreme. Robert McChesney, founder of Free Press, a group with deep ties to the Obama administration, the FCC, and the FTC has let slip where the plan leads:
“At the moment, the battle over network neutrality is not to completely eliminate the telephone and cable companies. We are not at that point yet. But the ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control.”
Now comes a clear test for the U.S. Senate. There is no clearer example of outrageous abuse of regulatory power than the FCC’s net neutrality order. It came just weeks after an election in which all 95 candidates who campaigned on the issue lost. It implemented a concept already clearly rejected by Congress and by federal courts. And it rewarded special interests, both left-wing ideological groups and companies like Google and IAC/InterActiveCorp that are close to the administration.
The Senate is expected a vote on S.J.Res.6, a Joint Resolution of Disapproval to overturn the net neutrality order. Under the Congressional Review Act, the resolution cannot be filibustered and Harry Reid cannot keep it off of the Senate floor. That means that if just four Democratic senators join all 47 Republicans they can stop this outrageous power grab, and protect the free market Internet – daring Obama to veto and take full political responsibility.
For the sake of jobs, the constitutional principle that Congress writes the laws, and the future of online freedom, let’s urge the Senate to do the right thing.
Mr. Kerpen is vice president for policy at Americans for Prosperity and the author of “Democracy Denied: How Obama is Ignoring You and Bypassing Congress to Radically Transform America - and How to Stop Him” (BenBella Books, October 18, 2011). Chapter 3 is on net neutrality.