The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill today that extended the moratorium on state Internet access taxes for an additional four years. The ban was set to expire on November 1, but the House passed the extension by a nearly unanimous vote of 405-2. There was really no danger of the moratorium being allowed to expire. The big political debate was over whether to extend the ban for four more years, or make it permanent.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said, â€œI am pleased that the House passed legislation to extend the ban on taxes on Internet access.Â By voting to continue the tax moratorium, the House will help promote innovation, affordable Internet access, and broadband services for American consumers and businesses. It is critical that the Senate now act on this bipartisan legislation ahead of the Internet access tax moratoriumâ€™s expiration on November 1.Â Americans must not face a toll road when they get on the information superhighway.â€
Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) expressed some disappointment that the ban was not made permanent. â€œIâ€™m pleased the ban has been extended, but the majority missed a golden opportunity to permanently shut the door on Internet taxation. Banning Internet taxation would benefit American consumers and small businesses, encourage greater economic growth, and create more American jobs. A strong bipartisan group of members support a permanent ban, yet House Democratic leadership has refused to schedule a vote on the bill.â€
He also speculated that at some point in the future, the Democrats want to the Internet. â€œSince 1998, when Congress first banned Internet taxation, House Republicans have made repeated attempts to permanently eliminate the threat of a web tax. This stands in stark contrast to the actions of Democratic leaders, who have ignored repeated, bipartisan calls to bring the permanent tax ban to the floor. 242 Republicans and Democrats support a permanent ban. The refusal by Democratic leaders to bring this bill to the floor not only thwarts the will of the House, but it also is a clear sign that they are not serious about keeping the Internet tax-free.â€
Boehner is using some seriously faulty logic here. The reality is that neither Democrats, nor Republicans want to tax Internet access. What is going on here is that the Democrats did not want to hand the Republicans a victory on an issue the year before an election. My guess is that if a Democrat is in the White House, the next time this comes up for a vote, then the ban will pass. I donâ€™t care if they keep extending or making it permanent. All I know is that allowing states to tax Internet access would be a disaster for everyone.
Jason Easley is the politics editor at www.411mania.com/politics His column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Jason is also the host of TPU Radio, which can be heard at www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse every Sunday morning at 11 AM ET.