On Tuesday, House Republican Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri stated that although he was happy to take part in renewing and lengthening the current ban on an Internet tax for at least another four years, he is frustrated with the Democratic majority for not permitting an up-or-down vote on instituting a permanent prohibition on taxing the Internet.
“Democrats had an opportunity today to put themselves firmly on record in opposition to taxing the Internet and impeding the rapid growth of our still-developing digital economy. The message they sent instead is that, while taxing the Internet may be something they want to do in the future, it’s not something they have the political capital to do in the present…I’m disappointed that we weren’t given the chance to send a stronger message in support of a free and open Internet today. That’s especially true given that good legislation to permanently ban Internet taxes has already been written — by a member of the Speaker’s own caucus, who also happens to reside in northern California,” Blunt stated.
Democrats have been soundly criticized for promoting what they call an “Innovation Agenda”, with its critics saying that there is nothing innovative about their agenda, calling it hardly more than a recycling of “socialist” initiatives that demonstrate antipathy toward business and the capitalist market of the United States.
The Republican-controlled Congress and the Clinton Administration first passed the ban on an Internet tax 1998.
Supporters of the ban maintain that in addition to another tax being a needless burden, the Internet is an economic force the likes of which few could imagine it becoming 15 years ago and will continue to be so. Many now say the Internet could be viewed as the prime mover of innovation and new business opportunities for “the common man” in the 21st century and beyond, throwing open uncounted new doors for consumers in the process.
Republicans and other critics of the proposed Internet tax are concerned that such a tax, which in some versions includes proposals to include taxing e-mails and levying taxes based on the number of downloaded bytes, would put off too much activity that is helping to drive the modern economy and making life better for the American public. They assert that the part of the “Innovation Agenda” that declares its support for a “nationwide deployment of high speed, always-on broadband Internet and mobile communications” is being violated by the proposed taxation of Internet access and use.
Representative Nydia Velazquez, Democratic Chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee, has cited estimates that the Internet tax would hit small businesses with anywhere from a 15 to a 30 percent increase in their Internet bills.
The Democrat-controlled Congress has previously received heated criticism for proposing a $150 billion “war surtax” proposal and for proposing a new federal budget that would involve a $392.5 billion tax increase on middle-class families as part of the largest proposed tax increase in United States history.