It’s not a piece of legislation many conservatives have paid attention to, but perhaps now they should. We’re talking about the telecom reform bill that Rep. Joe Barton is pushing through the House Energy Committee. According to staff sources, the main goal here, apparently is to give the telephone companies like AT&T the ability to offer cable TV-like services over their broadband lines. What should have every conservative nervous though, says an Energy staffer, is an issue that Barton, as well as Rep. Ed Markey, is pushing that would essentially impose a new layer of regulations on the Internet. “The language would eventually lead to the federal government having a say over what compaines might be able to do with their broadband networks, what services could be offered on the Internet, how people could charge or make money on the Internet,” says a staffer we spoke to on Friday afternoon. “It would cede a lot more control over the Internet to the FCC. It’s there in the bill, and people are missing it.” The legislation is expected to be made public sometim in the next two weeks, according to committee staff. We all know what happens when the government decides to get their regulatory mitts on anything. First it’s regulation, then it’s taxes. Conservatives – and Democrats during the Clinton administration – have done a good job of keeping the Internet free of both regulation and taxes. Why Joe Barton is pushing this is beyond us, but Republican leadership better start paying attention, and conservatives should let Republicans know that after months of bloated spending, regulating the Internet just won’t wash.
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