The Tea Party and Net Neutrality

Could the Tea Party ultimately help to pass net neutrality legislation? While that might seem unlikely, and editorial on Nextgov tries to make the case, speaking to leaders on both sides of the issue. The Tea Party generally doesn’t support net neutrality, because it see it as government intervention into a free market. But the real complaint the Tea Party has, according to experts, is the FCC’s move to enact and enforce rules all on its own.

But groups that claim to have the ear of Tea party supporters say that, ultimately, members will support some sort of legislation put together by Congress. Why? Mainly because they do not want the FCC to be a lone sheriff making and enforcing rules.

"I thought the [House network neutrality bill] was a good starting point for a legislative approach," said Phil Kerpen, vice president of policy at the Americans for Prosperity Foundation. "It was very encouraging to see Congress willing to act on this."

"I think congressional action that includes something I would not prefer to see is better than reclassification," Kerpen added.

Conservative blog Red State endorsed the House net neutrality bill that Congressman Waxman proposed before lawmakers went home. Red State blogger Neil Stevens wrote on September 29 that "House Republicans need to get on board and support" Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. Henry Waxman’s legislation. Republican lawmakers were not listening.

Seton Motley, president of Less Government and editor in chief of StopNetRegulation recently said in a Washington Examiner editorial: "It’s your job, Congressmen, to write and pass a bill that names the FCC the officer on duty. Until then, they are not."

"It wouldn’t be that hard to gain some momentum in the tea party to support a bill that got to the heart of the issue," Wayne Brough, chief economist at Freedom Works said.

Brough said that FreedomWorks prefers Waxman’s bill to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s proposal to reclassify broadband under Title II of the Communications Act. The Waxman bill would have taken reclassification out of the equation.

"The only reason [Congress] needs to act is to let the FCC know that what they are doing is exceeding their statutory authority," Brough said.

Several tea party organizations wrote the FCC in August urging the commission not to continue with "third way" reclassification. "I prefer, truth be told, that the government keep their hands off of this," said Lisa Miller, founder of Tea Party WDC and one of the signatories of the letter.

Read the rest here.

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