Guide arms Tea Party members with anti-net-neutrality talking points

Net-neutrality rules are "most surely not" needed, according to a guide released Monday for conservative activists who want to impact policy decisions. 

The manual from the Heartland Institute, titled “The Patriots Toolbox,” is targeted at politicians and “patriot-activists” in the Tea Party movement. Each chapter in the book addresses a major policy area, and one is devoted to telecommunications.   

"The editors and authors of this book do not presume to tell the movement what to think or how to act," the guide says. "This is not a 'program' or 'agenda' for a movement."

Rather, the guide aspires to arm the Tea Party movement with policy arguments that it says will get the country back on course. 

"The word 'toolbox' appears in the title because the principles can be used as tools to fix what is wrong with the country’s politics and public policies," the guide says. 

The telecom chapter includes a list of 10 major points for Tea Party activists who want to discuss communications policy.  

"Oppose network neutrality regulations," the guide instructs. "Attempts to legislate network neutrality risk a repeat of the disaster that was caused by the Telecom Act of 1996."

The Heartland Institute is a nonprofit based in Chicago that supports free-market thinking. It does not disclose its donors but acknowledges taking corporate contributions. The pro-net-neutrality group Free Press has reported that Heartland’s donors include major telecommunications companies. 

The guide condones four network-neutrality principles the Federal Communications Commission adopted in 2005, but says policymaking should end there.

"Should the FCC or state regulators do more to enforce network neutrality?" it says. "Most surely not." 

The guide also tells activists to support the repeal of discriminatory taxes and fees and argue for less government involvement in broadband deployment. It also says telecom companies should have greater leeway to set prices.

The guide has low regard for the FCC as a consumer-protection agency and encourages making a single entity responsible for consumer protection. 

"The agency has not set measurable enforcement goals, developed a well-defined enforcement strategy, or established performance measures linked to the enforcement goals," it says, commending what it sees as superior efforts at the Federal Trade Commission.