The Daily Caller recently unearthed a letter from several Congressmen to former FCC Chairman William Kennard in the wake of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. Among the letter’s signees is Senator John Kerry, whose signature represented his commitment to “policies that favor market forces over government regulation–promoting the growth of innovative, cost effective, and diverse quality services.”
This is all well and good, except that it brings to light yet another of Senator Kerry’s many flip flops, as Kerry’s stance on the current net neutrality issue illustrates a pro-government regulation, anti-free market mindset.
“The overarching policy goal of the 1996 Act is to promote a market-driven, robustly competitive environment for all communications services,” reads the 1998 letter. “Given that, we wish to make it clear that nothing in the 1996 Act or its legislative history suggests that Congress intended to alter the current classification of Internet and other information services”
In the 12 years since Kerry committed his John Hancock to the letter, the Senator has managed to hop the fence on this issue. Enactment of net neutrality, which Kerry now advocates, would involve the reclassification of the Internet and the imposition of heavy government regulatory burdens, stifling the market-driven innovation that Kerry once pledged to protect.
I sincerely hope Kerry takes a good look at the younger yet wiser Kerry represented in the 1998 letter– the Kerry who understands that the “unparalleled success [of the Internet] has emerged in the context of policies that favor market forces over government regulation” as the letter says.
Where Kerry sees a difference between the 1996 issues and our current fight for a competitive internet is unclear; however, the senator needs to crack open some econ books and figure out where he stands—for good.