Obama’s FCC lays the groundwork for government control of the Internet.
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The solution is for broadband operators to charge heavier commercial users of their service heavier fees to cover the costs. Those heavier fees can then be used to build even bigger and better broadband and Cyberspace access, sufficient to fully accommodate even the heaviest commercial broadband users.
But that doesn’t involve the expanded government power that Obama’s FCC and net neut advocates like Free Press are after. So it is not on the table as the answer. Government takeover is the only answer they will consider, just as in health care. But if the government is going to take control over the big investment bucks broadband providers put in the ground or into orbit, America is not going to get the Internet investment and access it needs. That is why America’s Internet access is already lagging behind other countries.
Democracy and the Rule of Law, or Not?
On April 6, 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled in Comcast Corp. v. Federal Communications Commission that the FCC does not have the power to issue net neutrality regulation. That decision resulted because the FCC already tried to impose an earlier, more limited version of net neutrality regulation through administrative adjudication of a particular case, rather than by broader rulemaking.
The case arose when Comcast responded to commercial users trading large files directly on its broadband service, rather than the users going through a central server. The FCC claimed authority to regulate the network management practices of Internet service providers like Comcast based on statutory language which authorizes the Commission to “make such rules and regulations, and issue such orders, not inconsistent with this chapter, as may be necessary in the execution of its functions.” This is Hugo Chavez style reasoning.
Rejecting that reasoning in an opinion written by one of the Circuit’s more liberal Judges, David Tatel, the Court had to remind the FCC that “administrative agencies may act only pursuant to authority delegated to them by Congress.” The Court said regarding the FCC’s reasoning, “if accepted it would virtually free the Commission from its congressional tether.” The Court added that “without reference to the provisions of the [FCC’s governing] Act directly governing broadcasting, the Commission’s ancillary jurisdiction would be unbounded.” Indeed, the FCC’s lawyers suggested to the Court in oral argument that in the agency’s view it already has the power to impose price controls and rate regulation on Internet service providers and broadband operators.
Yet, the FCC just flouts this decision in going ahead and issuing its net neutrality regulations by rulemaking last week. Moreover, McDowell explains in the Wall Street Journal that it also flouts Congress, as before the FCC issued the new net neut regs, “More than 300 members of Congress, including 86 Democrats, contacted the FCC to implore it to stop pursuing Internet regulation and to defer to Capitol Hill.” McDowell adds that this was “a rare event in Washington: a large, bipartisan majority of Congress agreeing on something.”
And the FCC’s action also flouts democracy and the American people. In the last election, net neut schemers like Free Press concocted a net neutrality pledge for candidates to run on. They got 65 pledge signers. All 65 lost at the polls. That is because the people are smart enough to recognize that government regulation over the Internet is going to be the opposite of Power to the People.
This FCC episode raises a broader question about the Obama Administration in the next two years. Because what we see here is what we are already seeing elsewhere in the Administration as well, from HHS Secretary Sebelius’s takeover of health insurance, to the EPA’s takeover of the economy based on global warming fantasies. That broader question is: Are we going to be governed by democracy and the rule of law in America, or not? What these opening skirmishes indicate is the Administration will severely test that proposition in the next two years rather than work with the newly Republicanized Congress.
The Republican majority in the House must be equally tough in responding to this fundamental challenge to the governance of America. One of those responses must be to act to remove Administration officials who attempt to flout the courts, the Congress, democracy, and the will of the American people.
The House should open hearings on removing FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski for failing to abide by the ruling of the Federal appeals court, as well as blowing off Congress, and the American people. Those hearings would be all about stopping the government’s takeover of the Internet, an issue on which the American people overwhelmingly agree with the Republican view. The hearings should focus as well on removing FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, who has more openly expressed his opposition to freedom of speech for people with whom he doesn’t agree, a viewpoint America cannot allow to anyone in position of authority.
Let me reiterate that Republicans can never consider impeaching Obama himself, no matter what he does. I have suggested before that one of the reasons to vote Republican for President is that Republican Presidents are subject to the rule of law, a principle established in the early 1970s. But Democrat Presidents are not subject to the rule of law, a principle established in the late 1990s. Democrat Presidents are free in our system of government to flout the law with impunity.
But Republicans can and must send the message that Administration officials perfectly prepared to assist in a slow motion coup against the rule of law and democracy will themselves be removed.
The ultimate solution, however, to protect the Internet, and freedom of speech in America, is to privatize the FCC. That would be accomplished by auctioning off property rights in the airwaves and broadcast spectrums. In the free market, private owners would use those resources to best serve the public, in order to maximize the value of their investment. That would apply to all radio broadcasting and TV broadcasting licenses. The FCC would not be needed then for any purpose, and should be abolished. The spectrum auctions would raise funds to be used to help balance the budget.
Senate Majority Leader Joe Manchin
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online