'Democracy Denied': Little Time to Block FCC from Bypassing Congress on Net Neutrality

Americans for Prosperity’s Phil Kerpen has released a new book: Democracy Denied: How Obama is Ignoring You and Bypassing Congress to Radically Transform America - And How to Stop Him.



In this work, Kerpen lays out the Obama Administration’s serial abuse--in fact, outright violation--of our Constitutional republican form of government. President Obama is using the panoply of federal Departments, Commissions, Agencies and Boards to illegally force feed us new “laws.” Yet they aren’t laws at all, as Obama is bypassing Congress and the legislative process. They are being foisted upon us by executive branch regulatory fiat. This is not democracy but dictatorship, as Kerpen’s excellent tome exhaustively proves.

Here is but a sampling of the research he presents to make his case. Chapter II: Democrats can’t pass the energy sector-assault that is Cap & Trade? No problem, President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will start imposing large swaths of it as if it has. Chapter IV: Democrats can’t pass the workplace-assault that is the Big Union-payoff Card Check? No problem, President Obama’s National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and Department of Labor will start imposing large swaths of it as if it has.

Chapter V: ObamaCare--which did get shoved, bribed and cajoled through Congress--left WIDE latitude for Health & Human Services (HHS) regulators to go to town on our health care sector. And here's a shocker; they already are. Chapter VI: The Dodd-Frank financial sector-attack slipped through Congress under cover of economic crash-fueled panic and also left WIDE latitude for a host of regulatory agencies to go to town. Shocker-- so are they. And the list goes on, and on, and on...

Today I want to focus on Chapter III, which covers the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s December 21 illegal takeover of the Internet so as to then illegally impose Network Neutrality. This was a rerun of the FCC’s first attempt to impose Net Neutrality, which the D.C. Circuit Court unanimously threw out because the Commission must first wait for Congress to write a law giving them such authority. Congress still has not yet done this.

Net Neutrality is an egregious regulatory assault on the Internet sector, which has quickly become 1/6th of the nation’s economy, and it continues to rise. That's precisely because it has thus far remained regulation-free. You want jobs? How about 3.3% tech sector unemployment, juxtaposed with 9.1% nationwide? It seems a government-free system is working quite well for the Internet.

And Net Neutrality is an alleged “fix” to a non-existent problem. Even the most virulent pro-Net Neutrality folks begrudgingly admit there are exactly ZERO Net Neutrality violations currently occurring. But rather than address any violations on a case-by-case basis, Obama’s FCC has jammed through an oppressive, everyone’s-guilty-with-no-chance-to-prove-innocence regulatory nightmare.

And Net Neutrality may very well be the least popular of President Obama’s myriad fiat jobs. Ninety-five 2010 Congressional candidates signed a pro-Net Neutrality pledge, and all ninety-five lost. That helps explain why Congress has never given Net Neutrality a vote or why President Obama’s FCC rushed to ram it through just after this 0-for-95 election.

The FCC has now contradicted its own rushed vote, slow-walking Net Neutrality’s imposition and taking nearly nine months to finally file it with the federal register (where regulations go to get imposed), perhaps in the hope that the anger over their Internet authoritarianism would have by now dissipated. Let’s show them it has not.

The fight to undo the FCC’s power grab currently resides in the United States Senate, as they have before them the House-passed Congressional Review Act Resolution of Disapproval, which will overturn the FCC’s illegal Net Neutrality action. The bad news is the Senate has but a finite period of time to act (and the illegal order goes into effect on November 20). The good news is because of this short and closing window, only 51 votes are required for passage. No filibusters allowed. It appears all 47 Senate Republicans are on board, ready to say Aye, which means we need four Democrats. That's where the fun begins.

23 Democrat Senate seats are up for election in 2012. Some of the current sitters are retiring. Many are running to re-up, several in swing or even Republican-leaning states.

Let us peruse some of these up-in-2012 Democrats, folks who should vote to undo Net Neutrality if they’d like to keep the gigs they currently have.

Let us begin with West Virginia Democrat Senator Joe Manchin, who ran for special election last year sounding an awful lot like an anti-regulatory, Less Government warrior. In a campaign advertisement, he famously shot the Cap & Trade bill with a rifle. In this ad, he also said, “I’ll take on Washington--and this Administration--to get the federal government off of our backs.” What better issue to take on and start peeling Washington off our backs than to vote to repeal this Administration’s illegal, authoritarian Net Neutrality Internet power grab?

Then there are these Democratic Senators:

  • Arkansas’ Mark Pryor

    • He has, in the past, shown a bit of an anti-regulatory proclivity. Here’s an opportunity for him to rollback not just unnecessary, but illegal government control of 1/6th of the American economy.



  • Nebraska’s Ben Nelson

    • He talks a good conservative game in this conservative state, but at the end of the day usually votes terribly. See (amongst many others): ObamaCare.



  • Florida’s Bill Nelson

    • Represents a swing state (See: 2000’s Presidential overtime session) that just last year elected Tea Party Senator Marco Rubio.



  • Michigan’s Debbie Stabenow

    • Michigan’s been a Donkey stronghold for a while--until last year. In 2010, Michigan elected a Republican Governor and Elephant majorities in both the state House and Senate.



  • Missouri’s Claire McCaskill

    • She represents a swing (and trending Red) state that just elected Republican Senator Roy Blunt.



  • Montana’s John Tester

    • He represents a state that in Obama’s watershed, anti-Republican 2008 victory still went to Senator John McCain.



  • Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu

    • She's not up for reelection until 2014, but she has been good on job-killing, price-raising energy sector regulations. Will she be good on job-killing, price-raising Internet sector regulations?



  • Virginia’s Mark Warner

    • He's also not up for reelection until 2014, but he made a mint investing early in tech companies. Perhaps that understanding of tech economic reality will lead him to vote to protect the sector from Net Neutrality. It certainly should.




2010’s Tea Party-led off-year electoral revolution was historic and huge, and it will, from many indications, pale in comparison to 2012’s Presidential-year looming grassroots wave for Less Government. The American people want less of everything from Washington--taxes, spending, and regulation. The only thing they want more of is accountability.

The Obama Administration’s Net Neutrality power grab represents everything against which Americans voted last year and against which they will again vote in the next. It also represents everything about which Phil Kerpen has written in his excellent book. When it comes to their vote on undoing the FCC’s Net Neutrality power grab, Senate Democrats need to remember the will of their constituents. They need to remember how their will was embodied in last year’s landmark, landslide election, and they need to note that 2010 is looking more and more like a warm-up for 2012.

And reading Kerpen’s tome couldn’t hurt.

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