Boehner Denounces FCC’s ‘Secret Plan to Put the Federal Government in Control of the Internet’

JohnBoehnerWASHINGTON, DC – February 26, 2015 – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) released the following statement today after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to impose new federal “net neutrality” regulations that would undermine a free and open Internet and hurt our economy:

“Overzealous government bureaucrats should keep their hands off the Internet. Today, three appointed by President Obama approved a secret plan to put the federal government in control of the Internet. The text of the proposal is being kept hidden from the American people and their elected representatives in Congress, and the FCC’s chairman has so far refused to testify about it. This total lack of transparency and accountability does not bode well for the future of a free and open Internet, not to mention the millions of Americans who use it every day.

“The FCC is supposed to be an independent agency, but the White House has once again meddled where it shouldn’t in order to advance what one commissioner has described as ‘a solution that won’t work to a problem that doesn’t exist.’ And like ObamaCare, the Obama administration’s plan for the Internet may not work, but it will create years of uncertainty and lead to expensive legal fights. More mandates and regulations on American innovation and entrepreneurship are not the answer, and that’s why Republicans will continue our efforts to stop this misguided scheme.”

NOTE: Nearly a year ago, House Republican leaders sent a letter to the FCC’s chairman urging him to drop consideration of federal net neutrality regulations. In November, Speaker Boehner warned that they would hurt our economy.

Stop FCC From Nullifying State Municipal Broadband Laws

tillis-againThursday, February 26, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) today introduced legislation to prevent the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from overriding state and local municipal broadband laws.

Earlier today, the FCC voted to effectively overturn North Carolina and Tennessee state laws that set requirements and conditions on municipalities competing with the private sector in the broadband marketplace.

The Tillis-Blackburn legislation says that the FCC cannot pre-empt states with municipal broadband laws already on the books, or any other states that subsequently adopt such municipal broadband laws. The bill also includes a Sense of Congress stating that the FCC does not have the legal authority to prohibit states from implementing municipal broadband restrictions. Original co-sponsors of the federal legislation included Representatives Mike Pompeo (R-KS), Robert Pittenger (R-NC), Renee Ellmers (R-NC), Mark Meadows (R-NC), and David Rouzer (R-NC).

“It is disturbing, yet not surprising, that the FCC and Chairman Wheeler are attempting to deny the sovereign right of states to make their own laws,” said Senator Tillis. “After witnessing how some local governments wasted taxpayer dollars and accumulated millions in debt through poor decision making, the legislatures of states like North Carolina and Tennessee passed commonsense, bipartisan laws that protect hardworking taxpayers and maintain the fairness of free-market competition. Representative Blackburn and I recognize the need for Congress to step in and take action to keep unelected bureaucrats from acting contrary to the expressed will of the American people through their state legislatures.”

“The FCC’s decision to grant the petitions of Chattanooga, Tennessee and Wilson, North Carolina is a troubling power grab,” said Congressman Blackburn. “States are sovereign entities that have Constitutional rights, which should be respected rather than trampled upon. They know best how to manage their limited taxpayer dollars and financial ventures. Ironically, they will now be burdened by the poor judgment of a federal government that is over $18 trillion in debt and clearly cannot manage its own affairs.

“I’m pleased to be working with Senator Tillis on this important issue. As former state legislators, we strongly believe in States’ rights and will fight the FCC’s liberal agenda. Chairman Wheeler’s regulatory appetite appears to know no bounds and is seeping dangerously into the lives of Americans. It is time for Congress to assert itself and protect States once again from unelected Washington bureaucrats.”

BACKGROUND

In 2006, the City of Wilson, North Carolina, borrowed at least $34.6 million to build a government-owned broadband network, without a vote of its citizens. In support of the borrowing, Wilson’s broadband business plan claimed that the fiber project would be cash positive in year three of its operation; however, the projection failed to materialize, as Wilson lost $2.1 million in FY2008; $1.1 million in FY2009; $1.4 million in FY2010; $1.06 million in FY2011; and $1.3 million in FY2012.

In 2011, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a law (S.L. 2011-84) that protects taxpayers by barring local governments from using tax dollars to cross-subsidize other local accounts and requiring a vote of citizens to authorize new debt used to fund the broadband service. The law grandfathered the City of Wilson, North Carolina, and two other municipal broadband providers, but required them to follow the requirements set in the legislation if they attempted to expand their service. Wilson subsequently asked for a waiver from those rules, resulting in today’s FCC ruling.

Obama on Monday proposed a $3.99 trillion budget for fiscal year 2016

President Barack Obama on Monday proposed a $3.99 trillion budget for fiscal year 2016 that sets up a battle with Republicans over programs to boost the middle class that are funded by higher taxes on corporations and wealthy Americans.

The budget foresees a $474 billion deficit, which is 2.5 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. It projects deficits stabilizing at that rate over a 10-year period, senior administration officials said.

Obama’s budget fleshes out proposals from his State of the Union address and helps highlight Democratic priorities for the last quarter of his presidency and the beginning of the 2016 presidential campaign.

But it is as much a political document as a fiscal road map and would require approval from the Republican-controlled Congress to go into effect.

“Our hope is that by laying out … a clear economic vision centered around the middle class and economic growth, that we’ll be able to have a productive conversation (with Republicans) and make progress over the course of the year,” an administration official said on Sunday, previewing the budget’s release.

Republicans have said they see room for compromise in areas such as tax reform and infrastructure, but many of Obama’s programs, which were rolled out in the weeks before the budget’s release, have landed with a thud.

“When … he devotes his time and energy to talking about the new tax-and-spend policies that progressives like and Republicans universally oppose, he signals to Congress that he is once again looking to argue rather than to legislate,” said Keith Hennessey, a former economic adviser to Republican President George W. Bush.

Democrats, however, viewed the budget as a statement of their priorities and a chance to demonstrate they represent the party that champions middle-income Americans.

“(It) affords him an opportunity to contrast his vision of helping the middle class with the Republican Congress’ approach of exacerbating inequality, ignoring the middle class and making the burdens of those who want to enter it even greater,” said Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, which has close ties to the White House.

INFRASTRUCTURE, TAX REFORM

The budget achieves some $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction over the next 10 years, officials said, through healthcare, tax and immigration reform, but the forecast assumes Republican support for Obama’s programs, which is unlikely.

Republicans have blocked immigration reform legislation in the House of Representatives, for example, and the budget assumes passage of such a bill.

The administration foresees a continuation of the decline in unemployment, forecasting a rate of 5.4 percent in 2015. The rate currently stands at 5.6 percent.

It also proposes a new infrastructure bank, a 6 percent increase in research and development, and a controversial consolidation of U.S. government agencies. Obama has previously proposed combining trade agencies, but the proposal fizzled.

The budget sets aside $14 billion to strengthen U.S. cybersecurity defenses after a spate of high-profile hackings.

It calls for a one-time, 14 percent tax on an estimated $2.1 trillion in profits piled up abroad by companies such as General Electric (GE.N) and Microsoft (MSFT.O), while imposing a 19 percent tax on U.S. companies’ future foreign earnings.

It proposes a 7 percent rise in U.S. domestic and military spending, ending “sequester” caps with reforms to crop insurance programs and closing tax loopholes such as one on “carried interest.” Those moves would help fund investments in infrastructure and education.

The budget would also reform rules governing trust funds and raise the capital gains and dividend rates to 28 percent from the current top rates of 23.8 percent.

In foreign policy, the budget funds efforts to defeat Islamic State militants and support NATO and European allies against Russian aggression, the White House said.