GOP lawmakers mull taxing Big Tech to subsidize broadband access

Posted:
in General Discussion
Key Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate are warming up to the idea of leveling taxes on big U.S. tech companies to fund broadband subsidy programs.

Credit: WikiMedia Commons
Credit: WikiMedia Commons


The idea to compel technology giants to pay into a pool of money to subsidized broadband access first originated with Republican FCC commissioner Brendan Carr, Axios reported Monday. Several key GOP lawmakers have expressed interest in the proposal.

Sen. Roger Wicker, a top GOP lawmaker on the Senate's Commerce Committee, said he believes Congress should explore the proposal. The office of Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the ranking Republican on the House Energy & Commerce Committee, said that all options should be on the table. Additionally, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called the idea "thought-provoking."

"Any conversation about building out broadband for unserved Americans should include a Big Tech user fee that corresponds to their use of that infrastructure," a spokesperson for McCarthy said. "Funding for the Universal Service Fund -- which is increasingly at odds with the principle of user pays -- needs to be updated and reimagined."

The Universal Service Fund is a broadband subsidy program managed by the Federal Communications Commission. All Americans pay a fee on their cellular bills that goes into the pool. However, the fee has been going up as the revenue base declines, leading some to call for a reform of the program.

FCC commissioner Carr said that Congress should force companies that benefit from broadband networks to pay into the subsidy fund. "It's just simply asking them to pay a fair share and start contributing on an equitable basis for these networks that they benefit from so tremendously," he said.

Apple would be affected because of its App Store, Facebook and Google would pay in because of internet advertising, and Amazon would be included because of its cloud services and video streaming.

The idea has seen some pushback from the technology industry. The Internet Association, a trade organization that represents Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google, characterized the idea as a punishment on large technology companies.

"We hope the FCC will take a common sense approach and not punish innovative, high-quality streaming services that are fulfilling consumer demand," said K. Dane Snowden, the Internet Association's president.

Although telecom firms have long argued that internet companies should pay for the privilege of using their networks, Carr's proposal also suggests that major telecom firms would pay into the fund.

Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel called the idea "intriguing," but said that the FCC doesn't have the ability to force companies to pay into the Universal Service Fund.

"We should be open to new ideas," Rosenworcel said. "But it's clear that this would require action from Congress."

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 14
    tdknoxtdknox Posts: 68member
    Why not just collect all the taxes from the billionaires that they aren't paying? It will pay for a lot more than just broadband.
    baconstangRayz2016ronnmontrosemacsdysamoria
  • Reply 2 of 14
    lmasantilmasanti Posts: 111member
    Will they continue with coal and natural gas firing power plants to pay for more solar/wind projects?

    Oh, no! They are the ones that fill GOP's congressmen pockets!
    12Strangersviclauyycdaven
  • Reply 3 of 14
    tylersdadtylersdad Posts: 302member
    lmasanti said:
    Will they continue with coal and natural gas firing power plants to pay for more solar/wind projects?

    Oh, no! They are the ones that fill GOP's congressmen pockets!
    The solar/wind energy companies fill the pockets of Democrats (remember Solyndra?). What's your point? 
    Japheylkruppdaven
  • Reply 4 of 14
    viclauyycviclauyyc Posts: 683member
    tylersdad said:

    The solar/wind energy companies fill the pockets of Democrats (remember Solyndra?). What's your point? 
    At least the Democrat don’t support a crazy man and solar & wind won’t polluted the environment after it is build. 
    montrosemacsdavenjony0
  • Reply 5 of 14
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,461member
    tdknox said:
    Why not just collect all the taxes from the billionaires that they aren't paying? It will pay for a lot more than just broadband.
    The billionaires are already paying the all the taxes they are legally required to pay. If they are using loopholes it’s the same politicians wanting to tax them more that created the loopholes in the first place. So enough with the ‘tax avoidance’ bullshit. If they weren’t legally avoiding those taxes then you might have a case. Getting the politicians to close the loopholes is the big problem. The politicians don’t WANT to close the loopholes because the threat to do so gives them the leverage they need to enrich themselves while in office. It’s all a scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours symbiotic relationship between the wealthy and the politicians.
    FileMakerFellermuthuk_vanalingamdewmejony0
  • Reply 6 of 14
    jimh2jimh2 Posts: 353member
    Oh so easy to take other people’s money. All companies pay for access to the internet or they own the fiber and are paid for usage. Any money tech companies collect is taxed as is any money collected by the ISP’s and the owners of the infrastructure. 

    Reality is that this is a tax on the consumer as no company eats new expenses. Tech companies will figure out how much it cost per user and adjust their pricing accordingly pushing the tax rigjt back on the consumer. 
    FileMakerFeller
  • Reply 7 of 14
    jimh2jimh2 Posts: 353member
    tdknox said:
    Why not just collect all the taxes from the billionaires that they aren't paying? It will pay for a lot more than just broadband.
    They already pay all that they are legally required to pay. I don’t know if anyone adds extra money to their tax bill. 
  • Reply 8 of 14
    In reality it is in Google, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and most other big tech companies best interest to support this. Every person that has reliable high speed internet access is another potential customer for all these companies. Will it be passed on to us, probably. But spread it across enough big tech companies and it will amount to a little here and a little there for most of us.

  • Reply 9 of 14
    lkrupp said:
    tdknox said:
    Why not just collect all the taxes from the billionaires that they aren't paying? It will pay for a lot more than just broadband.
    The billionaires are already paying the all the taxes they are legally required to pay. If they are using loopholes it’s the same politicians wanting to tax them more that created the loopholes in the first place. So enough with the ‘tax avoidance’ bullshit. If they weren’t legally avoiding those taxes then you might have a case. Getting the politicians to close the loopholes is the big problem. The politicians don’t WANT to close the loopholes because the threat to do so gives them the leverage they need to enrich themselves while in office. It’s all a scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours symbiotic relationship between the wealthy and the politicians.
    The politicians also aren't going to close the loopholes because the billionaires and the businesses they represent, that benefit from those loopholes are the very ones enriching the politicians to keep them from closing the loopholes.  It's an ouroboro of corruption and greed.  As long as the billionaires pay and the politicians accept, nothing will change.  Just more partisan lip service to the keep the average citizen frothy and distracted. The math says it's cheaper, easier, and more expedient to bribe lobby a politician than it is to pay more in taxes.  The math also says more lucrative, easier, and more expedient to legislate for the paymaster than it is to legislate for the average constituent.

    Ironically and sadly, that math is one of the very few things that crosses party lines.  
    dysamoriamuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 10 of 14
    davidwdavidw Posts: 1,329member
    "The idea to compel technology giants to pay into a pool of money to subsidized broadband access first originated with Republican FCC commissioner Brendan Carr, Axios reported Monday. Several key GOP lawmakers have expressed interest in the proposal."

     FYI- that ...... "pool of money to subsidize broadband access" ..... already exist in the 1998 "Universal Service Fund" (under Connect America Fund in 2010) and is now being funded in the tune of around $8B a year. Before any politician collect any more taxes from corporations, billionaires, millionaires or just regular tax payers paying the USF fee on their telecom services, these politicians need to fix the leak in the pool. Continuing to collect more tax money to fill the pool is like continuously running a garden hose into the pool to make up for the leaking water lost.

     https://www.fcc.gov/general/universal-service

     https://www.accountingtoday.com/opinion/federal-universal-service-the-government-fee-that-knows-no-limit

     Just google ...... "universal service slush fund"........ , to see just how wasteful and mismanaged this fund has been in the over 20 years they been charging telecom consumers in order to fund it.

     http://www.teletruth.org/USFReport.htm https://www.businessinsider.com/call-it-the-universal-slush-fund-2010-10

     https://constantinecannon.com/2019/06/07/usf-e-rate-fraud-whistleblowers/

     https://www.cagw.org/thewastewatcher/reforms-are-needed-financing-universal-service-fund

     https://www.networkworld.com/article/2285205/universal-services-fund-fraud--present-and-future.html
    edited June 28 FileMakerFeller
  • Reply 11 of 14
    davendaven Posts: 626member
    But it is a bad thing to tax coal and oil companies to pay for renewable energy? Instead coal and oil get bigly huuuuuuge subsidies.
    ronn
  • Reply 12 of 14
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,739member
    lkrupp said:

     If they are using loopholes it’s the same politicians wanting to tax them more that created the loopholes in the first place. So enough with the ‘tax avoidance’ bullshit.  If they weren’t legally avoiding those taxes then you might have a case. Getting the politicians to close the loopholes is the big problem. The politicians don’t WANT to close the loopholes because the threat to do so gives them the leverage they need to enrich themselves while in office. It’s all a scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours symbiotic relationship between the wealthy and the politicians.
    "tax avoidance" is bullshit, but "avoiding those taxes" (your words) isn't?   :D

    More often than not, loopholes are "created" in the same way security vulnerabilities in software are created: by omission, by failing to see something that might happen.  Something that is almost inevitable when you have free movement of people and capital across state and national borders and different tax jurisdictions.  The tax avoidance (not bullshit, an actual thing) that you dismiss is deliberate action by disingenuous people to avoid contributing to the societies that enable them to profit, and to shift the burden of maintaining that society onto others.  You pay more because they are assholes.

    But sure, defend those who are ripping you off.  I can lead you to water, but I'm not going to waterboard you.
    ronnFileMakerFellermuthuk_vanalingamCloudTalkinjony0
  • Reply 13 of 14
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,429member
    I will believe it only when the average American sees improvements. So far, every damned plan starts out sounding good for us, but the corporations lobby it into another money-making scheme for themselves. Verizon didn’t finish rolling out fiber, but pocketed federal money for it, and used it on their wireless service. Every provider lists a ton of “taxes” we have to pay, when most of these are actually taxes. And their service sucks.
    ronn
  • Reply 14 of 14
    Here's an idea: let's have the ISPs actually IMPLEMENT the services they were paid to implement over 20 years ago. As others have pointed out, it's not that the fund needs more money, it's that the providers aren't living up to their end of the bargain.
    ronn
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