The new FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai announced a move on Friday that gave a throat punch to the Lifeline program in which nine companies are currently participating. Early in the Obama Administration, Pai’s predecessor, Tom Wheeler, pushed through “midnight regulations” that were supposed to provide low-income households with the internet via a $9.25 monthly credit.
"These last-minute actions, which did not enjoy the support of the majority of Commissioners at the time they were taken, should not bind us going forward. Accordingly, they are being revoked,” Pai said in a statement.
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The only Democrat on the commission, Mignon Clyburn, attacked the announcement with her own statement and called out Pai for his series of Friday afternoon actions — part of what she called "take out the trash day."
“By eliminating the designations of nine entities to provide Lifeline broadband service, the Bureau has substantially undermined businesses who had begun relying on those designations," Clyburn said. "These providers include a minority-owned business, a provider enabling students to complete their homework online, and others serving Tribal lands."
“Given the serious policy concerns at stake here, I asked to have this Order considered by the full Commission. But, clearly, the goal was to include this in the ‘Friday News Dump’, as my request was flatly denied."
This columnist understands the Constitution and does not condone or authorize redistribution of wealth. If we provide everything for people, we destroy their incentive to improve themselves. Additionally, taking from the industrious to give to those who are not, destroys their incentive, as well.
The FCC Commission has five positions. Currently, there are two Republicans and one Democrat, and the remaining two spots will be filled with one from each party giving the Republican President a three to two majority on the commission. Pai has been vocal in the past opposing Obama’s “Net Neutrality.”
Those who believe the free market with fewer regulations preferable to government control and meddling in private businesses are always at odds. Pai has stated that he prefers to steer the FCC in a direction that allows free market competition among phone and cable companies. Pai believes the FCC overstepped its boundaries under the previous chairman, Wheeler. In December last year, Pai expressed confidence that the 2015 net neutrality rules would be reversed, and noted that the FCC needed to take a “weed whacker” to what he believes are unnecessary regulations that prevent investment and innovation.
While many consumer advocates disagree with Pai’s approach and are vocally opposing his efforts, large entities such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Netflix, also expressed its opinion on Pai, saying that while he doesn’t always side with the industry, “he is both thoughtful and willing to listen.” That sounds like a good balance to me. My personal experience with most consumer advocates is that they tend to prefer government control and regulation to free market competition, which results in more costs and fewer options. I recall when government strictly controlled the phone companies and airlines. When they were deregulated, the options exploded and the cost went way down.
Marsha Blackburn, (R) congresswoman from TN stated, “The agency has strayed from its core mission.” Indeed, hasn’t most of the government?
Photo Credit: © 2011 Johan Larsson, Flickr | CC-BY