Saturday, April 16, 2011

Tea Party, Corporate Front Groups Urge Democrats to Cave on Net Neutrality

Huffington Post
by Timothy Karr.
Campaign Director, Free Press and

Net Neutrality, the First Amendment of the Internet, has come under withering attack from the Astroturf lobby -- corporate front groups that are determined to hand control of the Internet to companies like AT&T and Comcast.

Their battle strategy involves getting a handful of House Democrats to cave to right-wing pressure and vote in favor of a measure that would strip the Federal Communications Commission of its ability to protect freedom of speech and choice for Internet users.

An article on Andrew Breitbart's Big Government identifies 13 Democrats as possible sympathizers, and urges readers to phone them up and urge their vote on Wednesday for a Congressional "Resolution of Disapproval" that has been embraced by Rep. Michele Bachmann and pushed by House Speaker John Boehner.

If passed, the Resolution of Disapproval (H.J. Res. 37) would open the door to widespread corporate abuse of Net Neutrality.

The front groups' target list includes Democratic Reps. Jason Altmire (PA-4), Sanford Bishop (GA-2), Leonard Boswell (IA-3), Jim Costa (CA-20), Henry Cuellar (TX-28), Reuben Hinojosa (TX-15), Tim Holden (PA-17), Rick Larsen (WA-2), Mike McIntyre (NC-7), Jerry McNerney (CA-11), Gregory Meeks (NY-6), David Scott (GA-13), and Heath Shuler (NC-11).

Each of these 13 members has a track record of caving to corporate pressure on telecommunications policy. In May of 2010, 12 were among those who signed an industry-spun letter designed to undermine the FCC's authority to protect an open Internet and foster universal access.

Most every one of them has received considerable sums from the phone and cable lobby, which makes them particularly vulnerable in the thinking of the corporate funded Tea Party groups that are now generating letters and calls to their offices.

"This is our first opportunity to rein in the Barack Obama Administration's ongoing, all-encompassing effort to bypass Congress and enact their Leftist policies via executive branch regulatory fiat," one commenter wrote at Big Government.

Americans for Prosperity, the industry-funded astroturf group, has asked its members to send letters to these and other House offices calling Net Neutrality "Obama's Internet takeover." (Last night, the White House vowed to veto the Resolution should it pass Congress)

"Regulating the Internet under the banner of so-called network neutrality has been a far-left obsession for years," argues Americans for Prosperity VP of Policy Phil Kerpen.

In truth, Net Neutrality has received support from every corner of society -- from the socially conservative Christian Coalition to the rights advocates at ACLU, from librarians and educators to video gamers and musicians.

More than two million Americans have sent letters to the FCC and Congress urging leaders to "stand with the public by protecting Net Neutrality once and for all."

It's an issue that should transcend partisan politics to be supported by anyone who believes in our right to connect with everyone else online and share information without being blocked by carriers.

The Democrats in question shouldn't let the astroturfing of a few turn them against protections that benefit so many.

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