With so many Americans rightly focused on jobs and the
economy, it is very possible that many people are unaware of the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) scheme to impose a number of burdensome
government regulations on the Internet. The move - while bad for consumers,
innovation and investment - is not surprising because it is the fulfillment of
a campaign promise made by President Barack Obama in 2008. Never mind that the
Internet is a bright spot for our struggling economy and functioning just fine
without what amounts to a federal pat-down of the inner workings of the
Federal regulation of the Internet, also known as network
neutrality, has been seen as the holy grail for the media regulation obsessed
left-wing special interest groups like Moveon.org, Free Press and George
Soros's Open Society Institute for the latter half of the past decade. And with
these and other special interests to satisfy going into a Presidential
Election, it really does not matter that only 21 percent of Americans support
federal regulation of the Internet over the free market or that these
regulations will deter capital investment which create private sector jobs.
Despite promises to change how Washington works, this is special interest policy-making
101 and to the Obama administration's FCC all other facts are seen as inconvenient
Sadly, this is not the FCC's first attempt to regulate the
Internet. For years, my colleagues and I - primarily Republicans but also some
Democrats - have introduced legislation and written to the FCC asking the
commission to cease attempts to regulate the Internet unless given the clear
authority to do so by Congress. The message in our correspondence to the FCC
was crystal clear: Members of Congress do not believe you have the current
legal authority to regulate the Internet, therefore, do not act. Like too many
other out of control Washington agencies, the FCC did not listen. In 2008, FCC
bureaucrats attempted to extend their regulatory tentacles beyond the authority
granted by Congress and were stopped cold by a court ruling earlier this year.
Unfortunately, like teenagers determined to out-game an authority figure, the
FCC was determined to prove it knew best. And so, here we are once again
confronted with another big-government plan to regulate a vibrant component of
our nation’s commerce.
At its core, the FCC’s plan to regulate the Internet will
force businesses and people to check first with the government and get
permission to innovate. Under this regime the FCC, not the free market, would
determine what can be done online and what should be given priority. That’s
right, an unaccountable FCC, which meets with special interests in private,
will be able to craft rules to benefit politically favored companies that can
afford expensive law firms so that they can gain competitive advantages. Are
you angry? You should be.
As the Republican FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell who
staunchly opposes the FCC’s regulation of the Internet stated the following:
"Litigation will supplant innovation. Instead of
investing in tomorrow’s technologies, precious capital will be diverted to pay
lawyers’ fees. The era of Internet regulatory arbitrage has dawned."
But, all is not lost. Fortunately, we have the United States
Constitution on our side. As a government agency the FCC is not elected by the
people - Congress is. And, as our Constitution points out, the authority to
makes laws is only granted to the elected representatives of the American
people, i.e. Congress, not the politically appointed FCC. As such, my
colleagues and I will introduce legislation next Congress to undo this
regulatory power grab by the FCC.
Unfortunately, each minute we spend reining-in out of
touch bureaucrats who have never created a job in their lives is one less
minute we spend focusing on getting our economy back on track and putting more
Americans back to work.
The American people should reject this power-grab and
demand that government get out of the business of picking winners and losers
when it comes to the Internet. As a member of Congress serving on the Committee
with oversight of the FCC, that is what I will continue to do until this poorly
conceived plan is abandoned once and for all.