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Obama Moves to Raise Taxes on Cell-Phone Users - Without Congress

Posted by on Aug. 17, 2013 at 10:25 AM
  • 38 Replies

Obama Moves to Raise Taxes on Cell-Phone Users - Without Congress

As we now know from the New York Times, the president hopes to

seize any opportunity I can find to work with Congress to strengthen the middle class, improve their prospects, improve their security. But where Congress is unwilling to act, I will take whatever administrative steps that I can in order to do right by the American people.

The latest such idea is unilaterally to levy a federal fee (traditionally known in America as a "tax") on mobile phone users in order to pay for "high-speed Internet access in schools that would allow students to use digital notebooks and teachers to customize lessons like never before." As the Standard Examiner notes, the program, named "ConnectEd,"

is a case study in how Obama is trying to accomplish a second-term legacy despite Republican opposition in Congress.

"It's got a lot of the characteristics of big-vision policy that you really don't get through legislation anymore," said Rob Nabors, White House deputy chief of staff, who is coordinating executive actions.

Dilate on this phrase for a moment: "Big-vision policy that you really don't get through legislation anymore." Rob Nabors probably doesn't know how right he is. Typically in America, when presidents cannot get the legislation they want through the peculiarly named "legislative" branch, that legislation remains unpassed. But, as George Will observed this morning in masterly fashion, this is apparently of little consequence to a man whose "increasingly grandiose claims for presidential power" rest upon the novel conceit that the structure of the republic retains its integrity only if its institutions agree to do what the incumbent president considers imperative. 

The "ConnectEd" proposal does worry the White House a little - although not on the grounds of anything as dull as conscience:

White House officials were also concerned about the perception that they would try to unduly influence the FCC.

Well, still thy beating hearts. I'm sure that nobody would worry that an FCC full of Obama appointees might be unduly influenced by the president of the United States.

"Using the FCC as a way to get around Congress to spend money that Congress doesn't have the political will to spend - I think that's very scary," said Harold Furchtgott-Roth, a Republican former FCC commissioner. "Constitutionally, it's Congress that decides how federal funds should be spent."

The former FCC commissioner is right: It is traditionally Congress that gets to decide these questions. But why should we let little things such as the rule of law and the purity of the social compact get in the way when there are grand and necessary plans to execute for the children?

This is pretty simple: federal taxation falls not "mostly," not "preferably," not "traditionally," not "hopefully," but solely under Congress's jurisidiction. This does not change if Congress is marked by "stagnation and dysfunction and an inability to act." If this "fee" is imposed without having gone through Congress, Americans will be subjected to taxation that has not been approved by their representatives. That the president is putting pressure on the FCC because he can't get what he wants through Congress is wholly inappropriate, and it cannot be simultaneously written off as a minor change by an independent body and lauded by "White House senior advisers" as "one of the biggest potential achievements of Obama's second term." 

It is of absolutely no consequence whatsoever that Obama is apparently racked with "frustration that countries such as South Korea [have] embraced technology in the classroom so much better than the United States [has]." He is simply not allowed to address that issue without Congress. That the president and his allies are evidently sitting around the White House trying to work out how they can get around the constitutional system of the United States should be worrying to each and every one of us. The only thing more worrying is that it is apparently not.

by on Aug. 17, 2013 at 10:25 AM
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Replies (1-10):
by Silver Member on Aug. 17, 2013 at 10:38 AM
1 mom liked this

 With both parties interested only in pleasing their corporate and wealthy donors the people are left out of the equation.

by Member on Aug. 17, 2013 at 10:40 AM
Ugh. I'm so sick of these games. When is his term over!?!
by Ruby Member on Aug. 17, 2013 at 10:41 AM
2 moms liked this

Wanna be dictators don't have to ask people for permission.

tsk tsk

by Gold Member on Aug. 17, 2013 at 10:42 AM

It's looking like more of us will be switching to track phones.

by Platinum Member on Aug. 17, 2013 at 12:58 PM
3 moms liked this

Obamaspeak:  "work with Congress" means "I want this to happen, and if Congress won't do anything to make it happen, I will make it happen all by myself!"

by on Aug. 17, 2013 at 1:03 PM
1 mom liked this
He is a fucking dick. I really hope someone takes care of him sooner rather than later.
by on Aug. 17, 2013 at 1:44 PM
3 moms liked this

What is this Congress that you speak of?

by on Aug. 17, 2013 at 5:11 PM

What does that mean?  Take Care?  

Quoting BobKitten13:

He is a fucking dick. I really hope someone takes care of him sooner rather than later.

by on Aug. 17, 2013 at 5:17 PM
Quoting Pastalove:

She wrote takes care

by Platinum Member on Aug. 17, 2013 at 5:20 PM
1 mom liked this

I think its great. Investment in our children is an investment in our future..


 "high-speed Internet access in schools that would allow students to use digital notebooks and teachers to customize lessons like never before." As the Standard Examiner notes, the program, named "ConnectEd,"
20111108 Head Start Announcement

President Barack Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, right, talk with students while visiting a classroom at the Yeadon Regional Head Start Center in Yeadon, Pa., Nov. 8, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Preparing America’s students with the skills they need to get good jobs and compete with countries around the world relies increasingly on interactive, individualized learning experiences driven by new technology.

From digital textbooks that help students visualize and interact with complex concepts, to apps and platforms that adapt to the level of individual student knowledge and help teachers know precisely which lessons or activities are working, many schools are already seeing the benefits of digital learning and connectivity. This technology is real, it is available, and its capacity to improve education is profound.

But today, millions of students lack access to the high-speed broadband internet that supports this sort of learning technology. Fewer than 20 percent of educators across the country say their school’s Internet connection meets their teaching needs.

Although the United States was once a pioneer in connecting schools to the internet, we’re now falling behind while other nations move forward with aggressive investment in digital learning and technology education. In South Korea, for example, all schools have high-speed internet connections, and all teachers are trained in digital learning. Printed textbooks will be phased out by 2016.

The fact is, schools without internet access put our students at a disadvantage.

That’s why President Obama is unveiling a bold, new initiative called ConnectED, which will connect 99 percent of America’s students to the internet through high-speed broadband and high-speed wireless within 5 years.

The President also directed the federal government to make better use of existing funds to get Internet connectivity and educational technology into classrooms, and into the hands of teachers trained on its advantages. And he called on businesses, states, districts, schools and communities to support this vision, which requires no congressional action.

Here’s how ConnectED works:

Upgrading connectivity

The ConnectED initiative will, within five years, connect 99 percent of America’s students to the digital age through next-generation broadband and high-speed wireless in their schools and libraries. The President is calling on the Federal Communications Commission to modernize and leverage existing programs, as well as the expertise of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to deliver this connectivity.

ConnectED will also provide better broadband access for students in rural areas, by expanding successful efforts to connect parts of the country that typically have trouble attracting investment in broadband infrastructure.

Training teachers

Our teachers are being asked to do more than ever, and they need to be equipped with better tools to help them succeed. Fortunately, technology can play a central role in this.

For example, new digital education tools that allow for real-time assessments of student learning, provide more immediate feedback to drive professional development, and enable the creation of interactive online lessons can empower teachers to understand each student’s strengths and weaknesses and design lessons and activities that better meet their needs.

The ConnectED initiative invests in improving the skills of teachers, ensuring that every educator in America receives support and training in using education technology tools that can improve student learning.

Additionally, ConnectED will lead to new resources for teachers from any school, at any time, to open their classrooms to interactive demonstrations, lessons from world-renowned experts, or the opportunity to build learning communities and to collaborate with other educators across the country or world.

Encouraging private sector innovation

Educational devices supported by high-speed networks are the portal to the world of online earning and interactive content, to personalized education software that adapts to students’ needs, and to breakthrough advances in assessing understanding and mastery.

These devices give students access to more rigorous and engaging classes, new learning resources, rich visualizations of complex concepts, and instruction in any foreign language. They also give students more opportunities to work at their own speed and receive additional one-on-one help they need to develop their knowledge and skills.

Leading technology companies are capable of producing feature-rich educational devices that are price-competitive with basic textbooks.And a robust market in educational software can unlock the full educational potential of broadband investment, while create American jobs and export opportunities in a global education marketplace of over $1 trillion.

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