NBC News is reporting today the the Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to expand a telephone subsidy for low-income Americans to include Internet access. Originally Republicans had reached a deal with one of the Democratic members of the Commission to cap the cost of the program, but evidently she changed her vote due to pressure from other Democrats.
The article reports:
Republicans have pushed for a budget cap for the $1.5 billion annual program, called Lifeline, which has helped lower-income Americans get access to telecommunications technologies since 1985. There is currently no cap.
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, a Republican, said Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn had signed onto a deal with Republicans earlier in the day after intensive negotiations, only to change her decision.
Pai’s aide, Matthew Berry, said Wheeler had “bullied” fellow Democrat Clyburn into withdrawing from a “moderate, bipartisan deal” that would also have set a minimum standard on broadband speeds.
I do not have a problem with providing cell phones to low-income people (within reason), although that is not the government’s job. We need to remember that the government has no money of its own–the only money the government has it takes from working Americans. If low-income people do not have land lines, they need cell phones for emergencies. However, I need someone to explain to me exactly when internet access became a right. Most Americans pay for internet access, and for many, that payment represents a significant part of their budget. Why are some Americans not only forced to pay for their own internet but also forced to subsidize someone else’s internet? It is also telling that the Democrats on the FCC were unwilling to put a budget cap on the program. That is the kind of thinking that creates the massive federal debt that has become part of America.