Get Ready for $11 Billion in ‘Net Neutrality’ Taxes

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Promises: Not long after FCC chairman Tom Wheeler swore that the FCC takeover of the Internet wouldn’t result in new taxes or fees, it appears likely that new taxes will show up on Internet bills in the near future.

In a speech a few weeks before the FCC voted to approve its “net neutrality” rules, Chairman Tom Wheeler promised there would be “no tariffs, no new taxes” as a result.

Later that month, FCC spokeswoman Kim Hart promised that the new regulatory scheme “does not raise taxes or fees. Period.”

If that sounds suspiciously like Obama’s promise that under ObamaCare you would be able to “keep your plan. Period,” there’s a good reason.

In mid-March, Wheeler told a House panel that he couldn’t, in fact, rule out a new Internet fee to help pay for the government’s “Universal Service Fund” (USF).

By shoving the Internet into the agency’s Title II regulatory scheme — which was set up 80 years ago to regulate the telephone monopoly — Wheeler made it possible to do so.

He said a special board representing federal and state governments was weighing whether to impose that tax. Right now, the USF is paid for by a tax added to long-distance bills.

“How they resolve things in the future I do not know,” he told the House committee.

Does anyone in their right mind believe that state and federal governments will say no to a brand new revenue source now that they can tap it?

The Los Angeles Times doesn’t seem to think so. An article published Thursday leads with: “Recently adopted net neutrality regulations soon could make your monthly Internet bill more complicated — and potentially more expensive.”

It quotes Hal Singer of the centrist Progressive Policy Institute, who figures the USF fee and various other charges that state and local government are likely to add to Internet bills will cost consumers around $11 billion a year.

Wheeler has suggested that any new federal Internet fee could be offset by a lower charge on phone bills, so it would be a wash to the consumer.

Right. Just last December, Wheeler authorized a $1.5 billion boost in the USF budget so he could spend more on subsidies for school and library broadband services, on top of the 47% boost in the fund’s budget since 2004.

Welcome to the brave new world of ObamaNet.

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