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DiabloViejo
06-10-2012, 06:20 PM
Did Republicans deliberately crash the US economy?
Be it ideology or stratagem, the GOP has blocked pro-growth policy and backed job-killing austerity – all while blaming Obama
Michael Cohen
Saturday 9 June 2012
The Guardian (UK) (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jun/09/did-republicans-deliberately-crash-us-economy)

https://static-secure.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/red/blue_pics/2010/12/02/mcconnellandco_460x276.jpg
<span style='font-size: 8pt'>The Republican party congressional leadership (left to right): Senate Republican minority leader Mitch McConnell, House majority leader Eric Cantor, and House speaker John Boehner, after the 2010 midterms. Photograph: AP Photo/Alex Brandon</span>

So why does the US economy (http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/useconomy) stink?

Why has job creation in America slowed to a crawl? Why, after several months of economic hope, are things suddenly turning sour? The culprits might seem obvious – uncertainty in Europe, an uneven economic recovery, fiscal and monetary policymakers immobilized and incapable of acting. But increasingly, Democrats are making the argument that the real culprit for the country's economic woes lies in a more discrete location: with the Republican Party.

In recent days, Democrats have started coming out and saying publicly what many have been mumbling privately for years – Republicans are so intent on defeating President Obama for re-election that they are purposely sabotaging the country's economic recovery. These charges are now being levied by Democrats such as Senate majority leader Harry Reid and Obama's key political adviser, David Axelrod.

For Democrats, perhaps the most obvious piece of evidence of GOP premeditated malice is the 2010 quote from Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell:

"The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."

Such words lead some to the conclusion that Republicans will do anything, including short-circuiting the economy, in order to hurt Obama politically. Considering that presidents – and rarely opposition parties – are held electorally responsible for economic calamity, it's not a bad political strategy.

Then again, it's a hard accusation to prove: after all, one person's economic sabotage is another person's principled anti-government conservatism.

Beyond McConnell's words, though, there is circumstantial evidence to make the case. Republicans have opposed a lion's share of stimulus measures that once they supported, such as a payroll tax break, which they grudgingly embraced earlier this year. Even unemployment insurance, a relatively uncontroversial tool for helping those in an economic downturn, has been consistently held up by Republicans or used as a bargaining chip for more tax cuts. Ten years ago, prominent conservatives were loudly making the case for fiscal stimulus to get the economy going; today, they treat such ideas like they're the plague.

Traditionally, during economic recessions, Republicans have been supportive of loose monetary policy. Not this time. Rather, Republicans have upbraided Ben Bernanke, head of the Federal Reserve, for even considering policies that focus on growing the economy and creating jobs.

And then, there is the fact that since the original stimulus bill passed in February of 2009, Republicans have made practically no effort to draft comprehensive job creation legislation. Instead, they continue to pursue austerity policies, which reams of historical data suggest harms economic recovery and does little to create jobs. In fact, since taking control of the House of Representatives in 2011, Republicans have proposed hardly a single major jobs bill that didn't revolve, in some way, around their one-stop solution for all the nation's economic problems: more tax cuts.

Still, one can certainly argue – and Republicans do – that these steps are all reflective of conservative ideology. If you view government as a fundamentally bad actor, then stopping government expansion is, on some level, consistent.

So, let's put aside the conspiracy theories for a moment, and look more closely at how the country is faring under the GOP's economic leadership.

As Paul Krugman wrote earlier this week, in the New York Times, while a Democrat rests his head each night in the White House, the United States is currently operating with a Republican economy. After winning the House of Representatives in 2010, the GOP brokered a deal to keep the Bush tax cuts in place, which has reduced the tax burden as a percentage of GDP to its lowest point since Harry Truman sat in the White House. At the insistence of the White House, Congress also agreed to extend unemployment benefits and enact a payroll tax cut – measures that provided a small but important stimulus to the economy, but above all, maintained the key GOP position that taxes must never go up.

But as Congress giveth, Congress also taketh. The GOP's zealotry on tax cuts is only matched by its zealotry in pursuing austerity policies. In the spring of 2011, federal spending cuts forced by Republican legislators took much-needed money out of the economy: combined with the 2012 budget, it has largely counteracted the positive benefits provided by the 2009 stimulus.

Subsequently, the GOP's refusal to countenance legislation that would help states with their own fiscal crises (largely, the result of declining tax revenue) has led to massive public sector layoffs at the state and local level. In fact, since Obama took office, state and local governments have shed 611,000 jobs; and by some measures, if not for these jobs, cuts the unemployment rate today would be closer to 7%, not its current 8.2%. In 2010 and 2011, 457,00 public sector jobs were excised; not coincidentally, at the same time, much of the federal stimulus aid from 2009 ran out. And Republicans took over control of Congress.

These cuts have a larger societal impact. When teachers are laid off, for example (and nearly 200,000 have lost their jobs), it means larger class sizes, other teachers being overworked and after-school classes being cancelled. So, ironically, a policy that is intended to save "our children and grandchildren" from "crushing debt" is leaving them worse-prepared for the actual economic and social challenges they will face in the future. In addition, with states operating under tighter fiscal budgets – and getting no hope relief from Washington – it means less money for essential government services, like help for the elderly, the poor and the disabled.

This is the most obvious example of how austerity policies are not only harming America's present, but also imperilling its future. And these spending cuts on the state and local level are matched by a complete lack of fiscal expansion on the federal level. In fact, fiscal policy is now a drag on the recovery, which is the exact opposite of how it should work, given a sluggish economy.

This collection of more-harm-than-good policies must also include last summer's debt limit debacle, which House speaker John Boehner has threatened to renew this year. This was yet another GOP initiative that undermined the economic recovery. According to economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, "over the entire episode, confidence declined more than it did following the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc in 2008." Only after the crisis did the consumer confidence stabilize, but employers "held back on hiring, sapping momentum from a recovery that remains far too fragile." In addition, the debt limit deal also forced more unhelpful spending cuts on the country.

Since that national embarrassment, Republicans have refused to even allow votes on President Obama's jobs bill in the Senate; they dragged their feet on the aforementioned payroll tax and even now are holding up a transportation bill with poison-pill demands for the White House on environmental regulation.

Yet, with all these tales of economic ineptitude emanating from the GOP, it is Obama who is bearing most of the blame for the country's continued poor economic performance.

Whether you believe the Republicans are engaging in purposely destructive fiscal behavior or are simply fiscally incompetent, it almost doesn't matter. It most certainly is bad economic policy and that should be part of any national debate not only on who is to blame for the current economic mess, but also what steps should be taken to get out from underneath it.

But don't hold your breath on that happening. Presidents get blamed for a bad economy; and certainly, Republicans are unlikely to take responsibility for the country's economic woes. The obligation will be on Obama to make the case that it is the Republicans, not he, who is to blame – a difficult, but not impossible task.

In the end, that might be the worst part of all – one of two major political parties in America is engaging in scorched-earth economic policies that are undercutting the economic recovery, possibly on purpose, and is forcing job-killing austerity measures on the states. And they have paid absolutely no political price for doing so. If anything, it won them control of the House in 2010, and has kept win Obama's approval ratings in the political danger zone. It might even help them get control of the White House.

Sabotage or not, it's hard to argue with "success" – and it's hard to imagine we've seen the last of it, whoever wins in November.

Soflasnapper
06-10-2012, 08:38 PM
An evil game, in my view. And one that is working so far, for their purposes.

LWW
06-11-2012, 04:55 AM
So you believe that the republicans are the party of the <span style='font-size: 14pt'>EEEVILLL</span> rich, which controls all of the wealth in America .... and for that reason they collapsed the US and world economies, costing their own wallets trillions of dollars of net worth and profits not realized?

And you wonder why you are viewed as an illogical doublethinking spoon fed tool of the regime?

Stretch
06-11-2012, 06:23 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> </div></div> And you wonder why you are viewed as an illogical doublethinking spoon fed tool of the regime?
[/quote] <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> </div></div>


That would be you. St.

Gayle in MD
06-11-2012, 06:31 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: DiabloViejo</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Did Republicans deliberately crash the US economy?
Be it ideology or stratagem, the GOP has blocked pro-growth policy and backed job-killing austerity – all while blaming Obama
Michael Cohen
Saturday 9 June 2012
The Guardian (UK) (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jun/09/did-republicans-deliberately-crash-us-economy)

https://static-secure.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/red/blue_pics/2010/12/02/mcconnellandco_460x276.jpg
<span style='font-size: 8pt'>The Republican party congressional leadership (left to right): Senate Republican minority leader Mitch McConnell, House majority leader Eric Cantor, and House speaker John Boehner, after the 2010 midterms. Photograph: AP Photo/Alex Brandon</span>

So why does the US economy (http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/useconomy) stink?

Why has job creation in America slowed to a crawl? Why, after several months of economic hope, are things suddenly turning sour? The culprits might seem obvious – uncertainty in Europe, an uneven economic recovery, fiscal and monetary policymakers immobilized and incapable of acting. But increasingly, Democrats are making the argument that the real culprit for the country's economic woes lies in a more discrete location: with the Republican Party.

In recent days, Democrats have started coming out and saying publicly what many have been mumbling privately for years – Republicans are so intent on defeating President Obama for re-election that they are purposely sabotaging the country's economic recovery. These charges are now being levied by Democrats such as Senate majority leader Harry Reid and Obama's key political adviser, David Axelrod.

For Democrats, perhaps the most obvious piece of evidence of GOP premeditated malice is the 2010 quote from Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell:

"The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."

Such words lead some to the conclusion that Republicans will do anything, including short-circuiting the economy, in order to hurt Obama politically. Considering that presidents – and rarely opposition parties – are held electorally responsible for economic calamity, it's not a bad political strategy.

Then again, it's a hard accusation to prove: after all, one person's economic sabotage is another person's principled anti-government conservatism.

Beyond McConnell's words, though, there is circumstantial evidence to make the case. Republicans have opposed a lion's share of stimulus measures that once they supported, such as a payroll tax break, which they grudgingly embraced earlier this year. Even unemployment insurance, a relatively uncontroversial tool for helping those in an economic downturn, has been consistently held up by Republicans or used as a bargaining chip for more tax cuts. Ten years ago, prominent conservatives were loudly making the case for fiscal stimulus to get the economy going; today, they treat such ideas like they're the plague.

Traditionally, during economic recessions, Republicans have been supportive of loose monetary policy. Not this time. Rather, Republicans have upbraided Ben Bernanke, head of the Federal Reserve, for even considering policies that focus on growing the economy and creating jobs.

And then, there is the fact that since the original stimulus bill passed in February of 2009, Republicans have made practically no effort to draft comprehensive job creation legislation. Instead, they continue to pursue austerity policies, which reams of historical data suggest harms economic recovery and does little to create jobs. In fact, since taking control of the House of Representatives in 2011, Republicans have proposed hardly a single major jobs bill that didn't revolve, in some way, around their one-stop solution for all the nation's economic problems: more tax cuts.

Still, one can certainly argue – and Republicans do – that these steps are all reflective of conservative ideology. If you view government as a fundamentally bad actor, then stopping government expansion is, on some level, consistent.

So, let's put aside the conspiracy theories for a moment, and look more closely at how the country is faring under the GOP's economic leadership.

As Paul Krugman wrote earlier this week, in the New York Times, while a Democrat rests his head each night in the White House, the United States is currently operating with a Republican economy. After winning the House of Representatives in 2010, the GOP brokered a deal to keep the Bush tax cuts in place, which has reduced the tax burden as a percentage of GDP to its lowest point since Harry Truman sat in the White House. At the insistence of the White House, Congress also agreed to extend unemployment benefits and enact a payroll tax cut – measures that provided a small but important stimulus to the economy, but above all, maintained the key GOP position that taxes must never go up.

But as Congress giveth, Congress also taketh. The GOP's zealotry on tax cuts is only matched by its zealotry in pursuing austerity policies. In the spring of 2011, federal spending cuts forced by Republican legislators took much-needed money out of the economy: combined with the 2012 budget, it has largely counteracted the positive benefits provided by the 2009 stimulus.

Subsequently, the GOP's refusal to countenance legislation that would help states with their own fiscal crises (largely, the result of declining tax revenue) has led to massive public sector layoffs at the state and local level. In fact, since Obama took office, state and local governments have shed 611,000 jobs; and by some measures, if not for these jobs, cuts the unemployment rate today would be closer to 7%, not its current 8.2%. In 2010 and 2011, 457,00 public sector jobs were excised; not coincidentally, at the same time, much of the federal stimulus aid from 2009 ran out. And Republicans took over control of Congress.

These cuts have a larger societal impact. When teachers are laid off, for example (and nearly 200,000 have lost their jobs), it means larger class sizes, other teachers being overworked and after-school classes being cancelled. So, ironically, a policy that is intended to save "our children and grandchildren" from "crushing debt" is leaving them worse-prepared for the actual economic and social challenges they will face in the future. In addition, with states operating under tighter fiscal budgets – and getting no hope relief from Washington – it means less money for essential government services, like help for the elderly, the poor and the disabled.

This is the most obvious example of how austerity policies are not only harming America's present, but also imperilling its future. And these spending cuts on the state and local level are matched by a complete lack of fiscal expansion on the federal level. In fact, fiscal policy is now a drag on the recovery, which is the exact opposite of how it should work, given a sluggish economy.

This collection of more-harm-than-good policies must also include last summer's debt limit debacle, which House speaker John Boehner has threatened to renew this year. This was yet another GOP initiative that undermined the economic recovery. According to economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, "over the entire episode, confidence declined more than it did following the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc in 2008." Only after the crisis did the consumer confidence stabilize, but employers "held back on hiring, sapping momentum from a recovery that remains far too fragile." In addition, the debt limit deal also forced more unhelpful spending cuts on the country.

Since that national embarrassment, Republicans have refused to even allow votes on President Obama's jobs bill in the Senate; they dragged their feet on the aforementioned payroll tax and even now are holding up a transportation bill with poison-pill demands for the White House on environmental regulation.

Yet, with all these tales of economic ineptitude emanating from the GOP, it is Obama who is bearing most of the blame for the country's continued poor economic performance.

Whether you believe the Republicans are engaging in purposely destructive fiscal behavior or are simply fiscally incompetent, it almost doesn't matter. It most certainly is bad economic policy and that should be part of any national debate not only on who is to blame for the current economic mess, but also what steps should be taken to get out from underneath it.

But don't hold your breath on that happening. Presidents get blamed for a bad economy; and certainly, Republicans are unlikely to take responsibility for the country's economic woes. The obligation will be on Obama to make the case that it is the Republicans, not he, who is to blame – a difficult, but not impossible task.

In the end, that might be the worst part of all – one of two major political parties in America is engaging in scorched-earth economic policies that are undercutting the economic recovery, possibly on purpose, and is forcing job-killing austerity measures on the states. And they have paid absolutely no political price for doing so. If anything, it won them control of the House in 2010, and has kept win Obama's approval ratings in the political danger zone. It might even help them get control of the White House.

Sabotage or not, it's hard to argue with "success" – and it's hard to imagine we've seen the last of it, whoever wins in November.

</div></div>

Great Op Ed.

G.

Gayle in MD
06-11-2012, 06:37 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Soflasnapper</div><div class="ubbcode-body">An evil game, in my view. And one that is working so far, for their purposes. </div></div>

I just hope they pull the same debt ceiling debacle again....
and if that doesn't wake up the brainwashed, nothing will.


EVIL is exactly the right description.
G.

Gayle in MD
06-11-2012, 07:31 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">The Unwisdom of Elites
By PAUL KRUGMAN
Published: May 8, 2011
The past three years have been a disaster for most Western economies. The United States has mass long-term unemployment for the first time since the 1930s. Meanwhile, Europe’s single currency is coming apart at the seams. How did it all go so wrong?

Well, what I’ve been hearing with growing frequency from members of the policy elite — self-appointed wise men, officials, and pundits in good standing — is the claim that it’s mostly the public’s fault. The idea is that we got into this mess because voters wanted something for nothing, and weak-minded politicians catered to the electorate’s foolishness.

So this seems like a good time to point out that this blame-the-public view isn’t just self-serving, it’s dead wrong.

The fact is that what we’re experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. The policies that got us into this mess weren’t responses to public demand. They were, with few exceptions, policies championed by small groups of influential people — in many cases, the same people now lecturing the rest of us on the need to get serious. And by trying to shift the blame to the general populace, elites are ducking some much-needed reflection on their own catastrophic mistakes.

Let me focus mainly on what happened in the United States, then say a few words about Europe.

These days Americans get constant lectures about the need to reduce the budget deficit. That focus in itself represents distorted priorities, since our immediate concern should be job creation. But suppose we restrict ourselves to talking about the deficit, and ask: What happened to the budget surplus the federal government had in 2000?

The answer is, three main things. First, there were the Bush tax cuts, which added roughly $2 trillion to the national debt over the last decade. Second, there were the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which added an additional $1.1 trillion or so. And third was the Great Recession, which led both to a collapse in revenue and to a sharp rise in spending on unemployment insurance and other safety-net programs.

So who was responsible for these budget busters? It wasn’t the man in the street.

President George W. Bush cut taxes in the service of his party’s ideology, not in response to a groundswell of popular demand — and the bulk of the cuts went to a small, affluent minority.

Similarly, Mr. Bush chose to invade Iraq because that was something he and his advisers wanted to do, not because Americans were clamoring for war against a regime that had nothing to do with 9/11. In fact, it took a highly deceptive sales campaign to get Americans to support the invasion, and even so, voters were never as solidly behind the war as America’s political and pundit elite.

Finally, the Great Recession was brought on by a runaway financial sector, empowered by reckless deregulation. And who was responsible for that deregulation? Powerful people in Washington with close ties to the financial industry, that’s who. Let me give a particular shout-out to Alan Greenspan, who played a crucial role both in financial deregulation and in the passage of the Bush tax cuts — and who is now, of course, among those hectoring us about the deficit.

So it was the bad judgment of the elite, not the greediness of the common man, that caused America’s deficit. And much the same is true of the European crisis.

Needless to say, that’s not what you hear from European policy makers. The official story in Europe these days is that governments of troubled nations catered too much to the masses, promising too much to voters while collecting too little in taxes. And that is, to be fair, a reasonably accurate story for Greece. But it’s not at all what happened in Ireland and Spain, both of which had low debt and budget surpluses on the eve of the crisis.

The real story of Europe’s crisis is that leaders created a single currency, the euro, without creating the institutions that were needed to cope with booms and busts within the euro zone. And the drive for a single European currency was the ultimate top-down project, an elite vision imposed on highly reluctant voters.

Does any of this matter? Why should we be concerned about the effort to shift the blame for bad policies onto the general public?

One answer is simple accountability. People who advocated budget-busting policies during the Bush years shouldn’t be allowed to pass themselves off as deficit hawks; people who praised Ireland as a role model shouldn’t be giving lectures on responsible government.

But the larger answer, I’d argue, is that by making up stories about our current predicament that absolve the people who put us here there, we cut off any chance to learn from the crisis. We need to place the blame where it belongs, to chasten our policy elites. Otherwise, they’ll do even more damage in the years ahead.



</div></div>

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/09/opinion/09krugman.html

Soflasnapper
06-11-2012, 10:00 AM
So you believe that the republicans are the party of the EEEVILLL rich, which controls all of the wealth in America

Both parties, actually. Well, parts of both parties, and dominant parts. Senators Lieberman and Dodd (D-Insurance Companies/CT), for example.

One time when Clinton vetoed a too-friendly to big money bill, the veto was overturned, with that effort co-led by Dems like Dodd.

I'm of two minds as to the collapse. One side of me says they simply blew it, it got out of control, and this crash was not on purpose at all, although easily predicted if one were objective about what they were doing (massive criminal fraud to keep the profits and bonus checks flowing).

Another says it was a plan, but if that's the case, it would not be your average obscenely wealthy people, but the REAL WORLD DOMINATING WEALTH that plays a long game (possibly on a 5-century basis, as David Rockefeller alluded to in an address to the Trilateral Commission). A SLIGHT (for them) reverse in their temporary fortunes is well worth it, given that in the aftermath, they get it all back and more at 10 cents, or 1 cent, on the dollar. Plus collapse ALL world arrangements into their preferred One World Order. Some eggs get broken with that kind of omelet. Plenty of more eggs where those came from.

Gayle in MD
06-11-2012, 10:04 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Another says it was a plan, but if that's the case, it would not be your average obscenely wealthy people, but the REAL WORLD DOMINATING WEALTH that plays a long game (possibly on a 5-century basis, as David Rockefeller alluded to in an address to the Trilateral Commission). A SLIGHT (for them) reverse in their temporary fortunes is well worth it, given that in the aftermath, they get it all back and more at 10 cents, or 1 cent, on the dollar. Plus collapse ALL world arrangements into their preferred One World Order. Some eggs get broken with that kind of omelet. Plenty of more eggs where those came from. </div></div>

I believe this version was the case.

G.

LWW
06-11-2012, 01:12 PM
The crash was due to stupid people in gubmint doing stupid things because they were too stupid to realize what they were doing.

Tree is nothing else there.

Soflasnapper
06-11-2012, 06:34 PM
I don't think you are so naive as to overlook the criminality of a lot of people when there is a lot of money around to be had from it.

Your blind spot is to think only the government types are doing that, and ignore the far vaster rewards given in the private sector for those private actors. $50 million a year, hundreds of millions a year, to an individual? Plenty of motivation.

That the government types get involved is from the influence of those private persons, in my view.

When Congress decided to look into reining in derivatives, regulating them, requiring no more than an x-multiple of leverage, etc., for safety, the financial industry weighed in, Greenspan weighed in, and argued that would be a terrible idea. The same geniuses in the financial industry said Glass-Steagall was outdated and harming sound economic growth.

You apparently think the Congressmen, Senators and President do all these things for the top 0.1% interests out of simple stupidity? How about the influence and lobbying and donations of Wall Street? No effect, or all the effect in the world?

Stretch
06-12-2012, 01:07 AM
[quote=LWW]The crash was due to stupid people in gubmint doing stupid things because they were too stupid to realize what they were doing.

There you go, stuck on stupid again. St.

LWW
06-12-2012, 03:13 AM
You make half a point.

LWW
06-12-2012, 03:14 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Stretch</div><div class="ubbcode-body">[quote=LWW]The crash was due to stupid people in gubmint doing stupid things because they were too stupid to realize what they were doing.

There you go, stuck on stupid again. St. </div></div>

You have a point, but a nice fedora would cover it.

Stretch
06-12-2012, 08:14 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: LWW</div><div class="ubbcode-body"><div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Stretch</div><div class="ubbcode-body">[quote=LWW]The crash was due to stupid people in gubmint doing stupid things because they were too stupid to realize what they were doing.

There you go, stuck on stupid again. St. </div></div>

You have a point, but a nice fedora would cover it. </div></div>

Poor Larry, it's hard to make a comeback when you havn't been anywhere. /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/crazy.gif St.

Sid_Vicious
06-12-2012, 11:14 AM
The system is broken. Yes, rebubs are certainly derailing success FOR the American public without concerns, for their political gain, all made legal by using sneaky but legal actions. IMO, it is sick that average Americans are still supporting these repubs in re-elections. Our country has maybe crossed the point of no return. Study the fall of Rome and you'll see what I am talking about. sid

Soflasnapper
06-12-2012, 03:44 PM
Sadly, given a great boost forward by the sainted Bill Clinton, who signed DOMA out of cowardice knowing it was unConstitutional (but at least didn't push that one), who signed and did heavy lifting gaining passage of NAFTA out of loyalty to big money, who signed the Communications Modernization Act to allow almost complete concentration of media ownership in markets for that same reason (don't know how much he pushed for it), and etc.

We have one party (the money and war party) with two connected wings and have had that for some time. The Dem side can paper over some of the chasms in our system for the short term, and the GOP side says, hell let it rip! The Devil take the hindmost!

We have a Hobson's choice here.

Gayle in MD
06-12-2012, 04:06 PM
I always thought Reagan was the culprit as far as Communication changes were concerned, far moreso than Clinton?

Here is a run down of each of them, and Bush, plus some history...I'd be interested in your opinions on the matter.

G.

Popular Questions
When Was the Fairness Doctrine Created?
Fairness Doctrine

From Wikipedia ( View original Wikipedia Article ) Last modified on 5 April 2012 at 09:03
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Fairness Doctrine was a policy of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), introduced in 1949, that required the holders of broadcast licenses to both present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was, in the Commission's view, honest, equitable and balanced. The FCC decided to eliminate the Doctrine in 1987, and in August 2011 the FCC formally removed the language that implemented the Doctrine.[1]

The Fairness Doctrine had two basic elements: It required broadcasters to devote some of their airtime to discussing controversial matters of public interest, and to air contrasting views regarding those matters. Stations were given wide latitude as to how to provide contrasting views: It could be done through news segments, public affairs shows, or editorials. The doctrine did not require equal time for opposing views but required that contrasting viewpoints be presented.[2]

The main agenda for the doctrine was to ensure that viewers were exposed to a diversity of viewpoints. In 1969 the United States Supreme Court upheld the FCC's general right to enforce the Fairness Doctrine where channels were limited. But the courts did not rule that the FCC was obliged to do so.[3] The courts reasoned that the scarcity of the broadcast spectrum, which limited the opportunity for access to the airwaves, created a need for the Doctrine. However, the proliferation of cable television, multiple channels within cable, public-access channels, and the Internet have eroded this argument, since there are plenty of places for ordinary individuals to make public comments on controversial issues at low or no cost.

The Fairness Doctrine should not be confused with the Equal Time rule. The Fairness Doctrine deals with discussion of controversial issues, while the Equal Time rule deals only with political candidates.



Table of Contents
1 Origins
2 Application of the Doctrine by the FCC
3 Decisions of the United States Supreme Court
4 Revocation
4.1 Basic doctrine
4.2 Corollary rules
5 Reinstatement considered
5.1 Support
5.2 Opposition
5.3 Suggested alternatives
5.4 Public opinion
6 Formal revocation
7 See also
8 References
9 Further reading
10 External links



Origins
The 1949 FCC Commission Report served as the foundation for the Fairness Doctrine. It established two forms of regulation on broadcasters: to provide adequate coverage of public issues, and to ensure that coverage fairly represented opposing views.[4] The second rule required broadcasters to provide reply time to issue-oriented citizens. Broadcasters could therefore trigger Fairness Doctrine complaints without editorializing. The commission required neither of the Fairness Doctrine's obligations before 1949. Until then broadcasters had to satisfy only general “public interest” standards of the Communications Act.[5][6]

The doctrine remained a matter of general policy and was applied on a case-by-case basis until 1967, when certain provisions of the doctrine were incorporated into FCC regulations.[7]

Application of the Doctrine by the FCC
In 1974, the Federal Communications Commission stated that the Congress had delegated it the power to mandate a system of "access, either free or paid, for person or groups wishing to express a viewpoint on a controversial public issue..." but that it had not yet exercised that power because licensed broadcasters had "voluntarily" complied with the "spirit" of the doctrine. It warned that:

“ Should future experience indicate that the doctrine [of 'voluntary compliance'] is inadequate, either in its expectations or in its results, the Commission will have the opportunity—and the responsibility—for such further reassessment and action as would be mandated.[8] ”

In one landmark case, the FCC argued that teletext was a new technology that created soaring demand for a limited resource, and thus could be exempt from the Fairness Doctrine. The Telecommunications Research and Action Center (TRAC) and Media Access Project (MAP) argued that teletext transmissions should be regulated like any other airwave technology, hence the Fairness Doctrine was applicable (and must be enforced by the FCC). In 1986, Judges Robert Bork and Antonin Scalia of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit concluded that the Fairness Doctrine did apply to teletext but that the FCC was not required to apply it.[9] In a 1987 case, Meredith Corp. v. FCC, two other judges on the same court declared that Congress did not mandate the doctrine and the FCC did not have to continue to enforce it.[10]

Decisions of the United States Supreme Court
In Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC, 395 U.S. 367 (1969), the U.S. Supreme Court upheld (by a vote of 8-0) the constitutionality of the Fairness Doctrine in a case of an on-air personal attack, in response to challenges that the doctrine violated the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The case began when journalist Fred J. Cook, after the publication of his Goldwater: Extremist of the Right, was the topic of discussion by Billy James Hargis on his daily Christian Crusade radio broadcast on WGCB in Red Lion, Pennsylvania. Mr. Cook sued arguing that the Fairness Doctrine entitled him to free air time to respond to the personal attacks.[11]

Although similar laws are unconstitutional when applied to the press, the Court cited a Senate report (S. Rep. No. 562, 86th Cong., 1st Sess., 8-9 [1959]) stating that radio stations could be regulated in this way because of the limited public airwaves at the time. Writing for the Court, Justice Byron White declared:

“ A license permits broadcasting, but the licensee has no constitutional right to be the one who holds the license or to monopolize a radio frequency to the exclusion of his fellow citizens. There is nothing in the First Amendment which prevents the Government from requiring a licensee to share his frequency with others.... It is the right of the viewers and listeners, not the right of the broadcasters, which is paramount.[3] ”

The Court warned that if the doctrine ever restrained speech, then its constitutionality should be reconsidered.

However, in the case of Miami Herald Publishing Co. v. Tornillo, 418 U.S. 241 (1974), Chief Justice Warren Burger wrote (for a unanimous court):

“ Government-enforced right of access inescapably dampens the vigor and limits the variety of public debate. ”

This decision differs from Red Lion v. FCC in that it applies to a newspaper, which, unlike a broadcaster, is unlicensed and can theoretically face an unlimited number of competitors.

In 1984, the Supreme Court ruled that Congress could not forbid editorials by non-profit stations that received grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (FCC v. League of Women Voters of California, 468 U.S. 364 (1984)). The Court's 5-4 majority decision by William J. Brennan, Jr. stated that while many now considered that expanding sources of communication had made the Fairness Doctrine's limits unnecessary:

“ We are not prepared, however, to reconsider our longstanding approach without some signal from Congress or the FCC that technological developments have advanced so far that some revision of the system of broadcast regulation may be required. (footnote 11) ”

After noting that the FCC was considering repealing the Fairness Doctrine rules on editorials and personal attacks out of fear that those rules might be "chilling speech", the Court added:

“ Of course, the Commission may, in the exercise of its discretion, decide to modify or abandon these rules, and we express no view on the legality of either course. As we recognized in Red Lion, however, were it to be shown by the Commission that the fairness doctrine '[has] the net effect of reducing rather than enhancing' speech, we would then be forced to reconsider the constitutional basis of our decision in that case. (footnote 12)[12] ”

Revocation
Basic doctrine
In 1985, under FCC Chairman Mark S. Fowler, a communications attorney who had served on Ronald Reagan's presidential campaign staff in 1976 and 1980, the FCC released a report stating that the doctrine hurt the public interest and violated free speech rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.

In August 1987, under FCC Chairman Dennis R. Patrick, the FCC abolished the doctrine by a 4-0 vote, in the Syracuse Peace Council decision, which was upheld by a panel of the Appeals Court for the D.C. Circuit in February 1989.[13] The FCC suggested in Syracuse Peace Council that because of the many media voices in the marketplace, the doctrine be deemed unconstitutional, stating that:

“ The intrusion by government into the content of programming occasioned by the enforcement of [the Fairness Doctrine] restricts the journalistic freedom of broadcasters ... [and] actually inhibits the presentation of controversial issues of public importance to the detriment of the public and the degradation of the editorial prerogative of broadcast journalists. ”

At the 4-0 vote, Chairman Patrick said,

“ We seek to extend to the electronic press the same First Amendment guarantees that the print media have enjoyed since our country's inception.[14] ”

The FCC vote was opposed by members of Congress who said the FCC had tried to "flout the will of Congress" and the decision was "wrongheaded, misguided and illogical.".[15] The decision drew political fire and tangling, where cooperation with Congress was at issue.[16] In June 1987, Congress attempted to preempt the FCC decision and codify the Fairness Doctrine,[17] but the legislation was vetoed by President Ronald Reagan. Another attempt to revive the doctrine in 1991 was stopped when President George H.W. Bush threatened another veto.[18]

Fowler said in February 2009 that his work toward revoking the Fairness Doctrine under the Reagan Administration had been a matter of principle (his belief that the Doctrine impinged upon the First Amendment), not partisanship. Fowler described the White House staff raising concerns, at a time before the prominence of conservative talk radio and during the preeminence of the Big Three television networks and PBS in political discourse, that repealing the policy would be politically unwise. He described the staff's position as saying to Reagan:

“ The only thing that really protects you from the savageness of the three networks — every day they would savage Ronald Reagan — is the Fairness Doctrine, and Fowler is proposing to repeal it![19] ”

Instead, Reagan supported the effort and later vetoed the Democratic-controlled Congress's effort to make the doctrine law.

Corollary rules
Two corollary rules of the doctrine, the personal attack rule and the "political editorial" rule, remained in practice until 2000. The "personal attack" rule applied whenever a person (or small group) was subject to a personal attack during a broadcast. Stations had to notify such persons (or groups) within a week of the attack, send them transcripts of what was said and offer the opportunity to respond on-the-air. The "political editorial" rule applied when a station broadcast editorials endorsing or opposing candidates for public office, and stipulated that the unendorsed candidates be notified and allowed a reasonable opportunity to respond.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ordered the FCC to justify these corollary rules in light of the decision to repeal the Fairness Doctrine. The FCC did not provide prompt justification and ultimately ordered their repeal in 2000.

Reinstatement considered
Support
In February 2005, U.S. Representative Louise Slaughter (Democrat of New York) and 23 co-sponsors introduced the Fairness and Accountability in Broadcasting Act (H.R. 501)[20] in the 1st Session of the 109th Congress of 2005-7 (when Republicans held a majority of both Houses). The bill would have shortened a station's license term from eight years to four, with the requirement that a license-holder cover important issues fairly, hold local public hearings about its coverage twice a year, and document to the FCC how it was meeting its obligations.[21] The bill was referred to committee, but progressed no further.[22]

In the same Congress, Representative Maurice Hinchey (another Democrat from New York) introduced legislation "to restore the Fairness Doctrine". H.R. 3302, also known as the "Media Ownership Reform Act of 2005" or MORA, had 16 co-sponsors in Congress.[23]

In June 2007, Senator Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) said, "It's time to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine,"[24] an opinion shared by his Democratic colleague, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts.[25] However, according to Marin Cogan of The New Republic in late 2008:

“ Senator Durbin's press secretary says that Durbin has 'no plans, no language, no nothing. He was asked in a hallway last year, he gave his personal view' — that the American people were served well under the doctrine — 'and it's all been blown out of proportion.'[26] ”

On June 24, 2008, U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, California (who had been elected Speaker of the House in January 2007) told reporters that her fellow Democratic Representatives did not want to forbid reintroduction of the Fairness Doctrine, adding "the interest in my caucus is the reverse." When asked by John Gizzi of Human Events, "Do you personally support revival of the 'Fairness Doctrine?'", the Speaker replied "Yes."[27] On October 22, 2008, Senator Jeff Bingaman (Democrat of New Mexico) told a conservative talk radio host in Albuquerque, New Mexico:

“ I would want this station and all stations to have to present a balanced perspective and different points of view. All I’m saying is that for many, many years we operated under a Fairness Doctrine in this country, and I think the country was well-served. I think the public discussion was at a higher level and more intelligent in those days than it has become since.[28] ”

On December 15, 2008, U.S. Representative Anna Eshoo (Democrat of California) told The Daily Post in Palo Alto, California that she thought it should also apply to cable and satellite broadcasters.

“ I’ll work on bringing it back. I still believe in it. It should and will affect everyone.[29] ”

On February 11, 2009, Senator Tom Harkin (Democrat of Iowa) told Press, "...we gotta get the Fairness Doctrine back in law again." Later in response to Press's assertion that "...they are just shutting down progressive talk from one city after another," Senator Harkin responded, "Exactly, and that's why we need the fair — that's why we need the Fairness Doctrine back."[30] Former President Bill Clinton has also shown support for the Fairness Doctrine. During a February 13, 2009, appearance on the Mario Solis Marich radio show, Clinton said:

“ Well, you either ought to have the Fairness Doctrine or we ought to have more balance on the other side, because essentially there's always been a lot of big money to support the right wing talk shows. ”

Clinton cited the "blatant drumbeat" against the stimulus program from conservative talk radio, suggesting that it doesn't reflect economic reality.[31]

Opposition
The Fairness Doctrine has been strongly opposed by prominent conservatives and libertarians who view it as an attack on First Amendment rights and property rights. Editorials in The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Times in 2005 and 2008 said that Democratic attempts to bring back the Fairness Doctrine have been made largely in response to conservative talk radio.[32][33]

In 2007, Senator Norm Coleman (Republican, Minnesota) proposed an amendment to a defense appropriations bill that forbade the FCC from "using any funds to adopt a fairness rule."[34] It was blocked, in part on grounds that "the amendment belonged in the Commerce Committee's jurisdiction".

In the same year, the Broadcaster Freedom Act of 2007 was proposed in the Senate by Senators Coleman with 35 co-sponsors (S.1748) and John Thune (R-SD) with 8 co-sponsors (S.1742)[35] and in the House by Republican Representative Mike Pence of Indiana with 208 co-sponsors (H.R. 2905).[36] It provided that:

“ The Commission shall not have the authority to prescribe any rule, regulation, policy, doctrine, standard, or other requirement that has the purpose or effect of reinstating or repromulgating (in whole or in part) the requirement that broadcasters present opposing viewpoints on controversial issues of public importance, commonly referred to as the `Fairness Doctrine', as repealed in General Fairness Doctrine Obligations of Broadcast Licensees, 50 Fed. Reg. 35418 (1985).[37] ”

Neither of these measures came to the floor of either house.

On August 12, 2008, FCC Commissioner Robert M. McDowell stated that the reinstitution of the Fairness Doctrine could be intertwined with the debate over network neutrality (a proposal to classify network operators as common carriers required to admit all Internet services, applications and devices on equal terms), presenting a potential danger that net neutrality and Fairness Doctrine advocates could try to expand content controls to the Internet.[38] It could also include "government dictating content policy".[39] The conservative Media Research Center's Culture & Media Institute argued that the three main points supporting the Fairness Doctrine — media scarcity, liberal viewpoints being censored at a corporate level, and public interest — are all myths.[40]

On February 16, 2009, Mark Fowler said:

“ I believe as President Reagan did, that the electronic press — and you're included in that — the press that uses air and electrons, should be and must be as free from government control as the press that uses paper and ink, Period.[19] ”

In the 111th Congress (January 2009 to January 2011), some members introduced the Broadcaster Freedom Act of 2009 (S.34, S.62, H.R.226), to block reinstatement of the Doctrine. On February 26, 2009, by a vote of 87-11, the Senate added that act as an amendment to the District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2009 (S.160),[41] [a bill which later passed the Senate 61-37, but not the House of Representatives].[42] The Associated Press reported that the vote on the Fairness Doctrine rider was:

“ In part a response to conservative radio talk show hosts who feared that Democrats would try to revive the policy to ensure liberal opinions got equal time. ”

The AP report went on to say that President Obama had no intention of reimposing the doctrine, but Republicans (led by Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S. Carolina) wanted more in the way of a guarantee that the doctrine would not be reimposed.[43]

Suggested alternatives
Not to be confused with Unfairness doctrine.
Media reform organizations such as Free Press feel that a return to the Fairness Doctrine is not as important as setting stronger station ownership caps and stronger "public interest" standards enforcement (with funding from fines given to public broadcasting).[44]

In June 2008, Barack Obama's press secretary wrote that Obama (then a Democratic U.S. Senator from Illinois and candidate for President):

“ Does not support reimposing the Fairness Doctrine on broadcasters ... [and] considers this debate to be a distraction from the conversation we should be having about opening up the airwaves and modern communications to as many diverse viewpoints as possible. That is why Sen. Obama supports media-ownership caps, network neutrality, public broadcasting, as well as increasing minority ownership of broadcasting and print outlets.[45] ”

In February 2009, a White House spokesperson said that President Obama continues to oppose the revival of the Doctrine.[46]

Public opinion
In an August 13, 2008 telephone poll released by Rasmussen Reports, 47% of 1,000 likely voters supported a government requirement that broadcasters offer equal amounts of liberal and conservative commentary, while 39% opposed such a requirement. In the same poll, 57% opposed and 31% favored requiring Internet web sites and bloggers that offer political commentary to present opposing points of view. By a margin of 71%-20% the respondents agreed that it is "possible for just about any political view to be heard in today’s media" (including the Internet, newspapers, cable TV and satellite radio), but only half the sample said they had followed recent news stories about the Fairness Doctrine closely. (The margin of error had a 95% chance of being within ± 3%.)[47]

Formal revocation
In June 2011, the Chairman and a subcommittee chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, both Republicans, said that the FCC, in response to their requests, had set a target date of August 2011 for removing the Fairness Doctrine and other "outdated" regulations from the FCC's rulebook.[48]

On August 22, 2011, the FCC formally voted to repeal the language that implemented the Fairness Doctrine, along with removal of more than eighty other rules and regulations, from the Federal Register following a White House executive order directing a "government-wide review of regulations already on the books", to eliminate unnecessary regulations.[1]



http://www.ask.com/wiki/Fairness_Doctrine





Telecommunications Act of 1996

From Wikipedia ( View original Wikipedia Article ) Last modified on 4 May 2012, at 10:25
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The Telecommunications Act of 1996[1] was the first significant overhaul of United States telecommunications law in more than sixty years, amending the Communications Act of 1934. The Act, signed by President Bill Clinton, represented a major change in American telecommunication law, since it was the first time that the Internet was included in broadcasting and spectrum allotment.[2] One of the most controversial titles was Title 3 ("Cable Services"), which allowed for media cross-ownership.[2] According to the FCC, the goal of the law was to "let anyone enter any communications business -- to let any communications business compete in any market against any other."[3] The legislation's primary goal was deregulation of the broadcasting market.



Background
Prior regime
Previously, the Communications Act of 1934 (“1934 Act”) was the statutory framework for U.S. communications policy, covering telecommunications and broadcasting. That act created the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or “Commission”), which was to implement and administer the economic regulation of the interstate activities of the telephone monopolies and the licensing of spectrum used for broadcast and other purposes. However, the Act explicitly left most regulation of intrastate telephone services to the states.

In the 1970s and 1980s, a combination of technological change, court decisions, and changes in U.S. policy permitted competitive entry into some telecommunications and broadcast markets. In this context, the Telecommunications Act was designed to open up markets to competition by removing unnecessary regulatory barriers to entry. However, the deregulations have led to a concentration of media ownership with fewer broadcasters competing in regional markets and the elimination of many local, independent and alternative media outlets.[citation needed]

Stated objective
Its stated objective was to open up markets to competition by removing regulatory barriers to entry: The conference report refers to the bill “to provide for a pro-competitive, de-regulatory national policy framework designed to accelerate rapidly private sector deployment of advanced information technologies and services to all Americans by opening all telecommunications markets to competition....” [4] Congress attempted to create a regulatory framework for the transition from primarily monopoly provision to competitive provision of telecommunications services.

Enactment
The Act was approved by the 104th Congress on January 3, 1996, and signed into law on February 8, 1996, by President Bill Clinton. It was the first bill signed in cyberspace and the first bill signed at the Library of Congress.[5]

Framework
The 1996 Act sought to foster competition among companies that use similar underlying network technologies (e.g., circuit-switched telephone networks) to provide a single type of service (e.g., voice). For example, it creates separate regulatory regimes for carriers providing voice telephone service and providers of cable television, and a third for information services.

Preemption. One key provision allowed the FCC to preempt state or local legal requirements that acted as a barrier to entry in the provision of interstate or intrastate telecommunications service.[6]

Interconnectedness. Since communications services exhibit network effects and positive externalities, new entrants would face barriers to entry if they could not interconnect their networks with those of the incumbent carriers. Thus, another key provision of the 1996 Act set obligations for incumbent carriers and new entrants to interconnect their networks with one another, imposing additional requirements on the incumbents because they might desire to restrict competitive entry by denying such interconnection or by setting terms, conditions, and rates that could undermine the ability of the new entrants to compete.[7]

Intercarrier compensation. Under these conditions, many calls will arise between parties on different networks. While it might be possible to have the calling party pay its carrier and the called party pay its carrier, for various reasons it has been traditional in the United States for the calling party’s carrier to pay the called party’s carrier for completing the call — this is called intercarrier compensation[8] — and, in turn, recover those costs in the rates charged to its subscribers. The 1996 Act requires that intercarrier compensation rates among competing local exchange carriers (CLECs) be based on the “additional costs of terminating such calls.”[9] However, the framework created by the 1996 Act set different intercarrier compensation rates for services that were not competing at that time but do compete today.

RBOCs may enter long distance. To foster competition in both the long distance and local markets, the 1996 Act created a process by which the Regional Bell Operating Companies (“RBOCs”) would be free to offer long distance service (which was not permitted under one of the terms of the 1982 Consent Decree settling the government’s antitrust case against the former Bell System monopoly)[10] once they made a showing that their local markets had been opened up to competition.[11] The list of Bell Operating Companies in the bill are: Bell Telephone Company of Nevada, Illinois Bell Telephone Company, Indiana Bell Telephone Company, Incorporated, Michigan Bell Telephone Company, New England Telephone and Telegraph Company, New Jersey Bell Telephone Company, New York Telephone Company, U S West Communications Company, South Central Bell Telephone Company, Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Company, Southwestern Bell Telephone Company, The Bell Telephone Company of Pennsylvania, The Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company, The Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company of Maryland, The Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company of Virginia, The Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company of West Virginia, The Diamond State Telephone Company, The Ohio Bell Telephone Company, The Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company, or Wisconsin Telephone Company[12]

Wholesale access to incumbents' networks. To allow new entrants enough time to fully build out their own networks, the Act requires the incumbent local exchange carriers to make available to entrants, at cost-based wholesale rates, those elements of their network to which entrants needed access in order not to be impaired in their ability to offer telecommunications services.[13]

Universal service support made explicit. Prior to enactment of the Act, universal service had been funded through implicit subsidies, levied as above-cost business rates, urban rates, and above-cost rates for the “access charges” that long distance carriers paid as intercarrier compensation to local telephone companies for originating and terminating their subscribers’ long distance calls. Recognizing that new entrants would target those services that had above-cost rates, and thus erode universal service support, Congress included in the 1996 Act a provision requiring universal service support to be explicit, rather than hidden in above-cost rates.[14] This requirement has only been partially implemented, however, and therefore significant implicit universal services subsidies still remain in above-cost rates for certain services.[15]

Policy considerations of new environment
The regulatory framework created by the 1996 Act was intended to foster “intramodal” competition within distinct markets, i.e. among companies that used the same underlying technology to provide service. For example, competition was envisioned between the incumbent local and long distance wireline carriers plus new competitive local exchange carriers, all of which used circuit-switched networks to offer voice services.

It did not envision the intermodal competition that has subsequently developed, such as wireless service competing with both local and long distance wireline service, VoIP competing with wireline and wireless telephony, IP video competing with cable television. Providers from separate regulatory regimes have been brought into competition with one another as a result of subsequent deployment of digital broadband technologies in telephone and cable networks. Voice and video services can now be provided using Internet protocol and thus might be classified as unregulated information services, but these services compete directly with regulated traditional voice and video services. Moreover, these digital technologies do not recognize national borders, much less state boundaries.[16]

Given the focus on intramodal competition and the lack of intermodal competition, there was little concern about statutory or regulatory language that set different regulatory burdens for different technology modes. As a result, the current statutory and regulatory framework may be inconsistent with, or unresponsive to, current market conditions in several ways:[17]

Service providers that are in direct competition with one another sometimes may be subject to different regulatory rules because they use different technologies. Some examples are:
For certain long distance calls, if the caller uses a wireless telephone number, the caller’s wireless carrier is subject to a cost-based “reciprocal compensation” intercarrier compensation charge for the termination of that call. But if the caller made an identical call, from the same location to the same called party, using a wireline telephone (and hence a wireline long distance carrier), that carrier would be subject to above cost “access charges” for the completion of the call.
When a long distance call is made to a called party’s wireline telephone, that party’s wireline local exchange carrier can charge the calling party’s long distance carrier an above-cost access charge for terminating the call; but if an identical long distance call were made to ths same called party, from and to the same physical location, but to the called party’s wireless telephone, the called party’s wireless carrier is not allowed to charge the calling party’s long distance carrier any access charge for terminating the call. Indeed, the average intercarrier compensation rate ranges from 0.1 cents per minute for traffic bound to an information service provider (“ISP”) to 5.1 cents per minute for intrastate traffic bound to a subscriber of a small (rural) incumbent local exchange carrier; individual rates can be as low as zero and as high as 35.9 cents per minute — even though in each case basically the same transport and switching functions are provided. (See CRS Report RL32889, Intercarrier Compensation: One Component of Telecom Reform, at pp. 2-5.)
the Federal Universal Service Fund is funded through an assessment on interstate telecommunications service revenues that exceeds 10% (the exact assessment rate varies from quarter to quarter); information services, even if they compete directly with the interstate telecommunications services, are not assessed.
Economic regulations intended to protect against monopoly power may not be fully taking into account intermodal competition.
The framework may not effectively address interconnection, access, and social policy issues for an IP architecture in which multiple applications ride on top of the physical (transmission) network layer.
Generally speaking, the number of broadband networks is limited by cost constraint—huge, sunk, up-front, fixed costs—which do not apply to applications providers. In this new environment, there will be three broad categories of competition:[16]

1. intermodal competition among a small number of broadband network providers that offer a suite of voice, data, video, and other services primarily for the mass market;
2. intramodal competition among a small number of wireline broadband providers that serve multi-locational business customers who tend to be located in business districts; and
3. competition between these few broadband network providers and a multitude of independent applications service providers. (In addition, there will continue to be niche providers that offer consumers users competitive options for specific services.)
These three areas of competition will all be affected by a common factor: will there be entry by a third broadband network to compete with the broadband networks of the local telephone company and the local cable operator?

There are four general approaches to the regulation of broadband network providers vis-a-vis independent applications providers (At present, the FCC follows the last two approaches):

structural regulation, such as open access;
ex ante non-discrimination rules;
ex post adjudication of abuses of market power, as they arise, on a case-by-case basis;
and reliance on antitrust law and non-mandatory principles as the basis for self-regulation.
There is consensus[18] that the current universal service and intercarrier compensation mechanisms need to be modified to accommodate the new market conditions. For example, the current universal service funding mechanism is assessed only on telecommunications services, and carriers can receive universal service funding only in support of telecommunications services. Thus, if services that had been classified as telecommunications services are re-classified as information services, as recently occurred for high-speed digital subscriber line (“DSL”) services, then the universal service assessment base will decline and carriers that depend on universal service funding may see a decline in support. It therefore may be timely to consider whether the scope of universal service should be expanded to include universal access to a broadband network at affordable rates, not just to basic telephone service.

Major provisions
This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (February 2011)


The 1996 Telecommunications Act is divided into seven Titles:

Title I, "Telecommunications Service" : Helps to outline the general duties of the telecommunication carriers as well as the obligations of all Local Exchange Carriers (LECs) and the additional obligations of Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers (ILECs).

Sec. 102. Eligible telecommunications carriers.
Sec. 103. Exempt telecommunications companies
Sec. 104. Nondiscrimination principle.
Sec. 151. Bell operating company provisions.
Title II, "Broadcast Services" : Outlines the granting and licensing of broadcast spectrum by the government, including a provision to issue licenses to current television stations to commence digital television broadcasting, the use of the revenues generated by such licensing, the terms of broadcast licenses, the process of renewing broadcast licenses, direct broadcast satellite services, automated ship distress and safety systems, and restrictions on over-the-air reception devices

Sec. 201. Broadcast spectrum flexibility.
Sec. 202. Broadcast ownership.
Sec. 203. Term of licenses.
Sec. 204. Broadcast license renewal procedures.
Sec. 205. Direct broadcast satellite service.
Sec. 206. Automated ship distress and safety systems.
Sec. 207. Restrictions on over-the-air reception devices.
Title III, "Cable Services" : Outlines the Cable Act reform, cable services provided by telephone companies, the preemption of franchising authority regulation of telecommunication services, video programming accessibility, and competitive availability of navigation devices.

Sec. 301. Cable Act reform.
Sec. 302. Cable service provided by telephone companies.
Sec. 303. Preemption of franchising authority regulation of telecommunications services.
Sec. 304. Competitive availability of navigation devices.
Sec. 305. Video programming accessibility.
Title IV, "Regulatory Reform" : Outlines regulatory forbearance, a biennial review of regulations, regulatory relief, and the elimination of unnecessary Commission regulations and functions.

Sec. 401. Regulatory forbearance.
Sec. 402. Biennial review of regulations; regulatory relief.
Sec. 403. Elimination of unnecessary Commission regulations and functions.
Title V, "Obscenity and Violence" :

Main article: Communications Decency Act
outlines regulations regarding obscene programming on cable television, the scrambling of cable channels for nonsubscribers, the scrambling of sexually explicit adult video service programming, the cable operators' refusal to carry certain programs, coercion and enticement of minors, and online family empowerment, including a requirement for the manufacture of televisions that block programs using V-chip technology. Title V also gives a clarification of the current laws regarding communication of obscene materials through the use of a computer.

Sec. 501. Short title.
Sec. 502. Obscene or harassing use of telecommunications facilities under the Communications Act of 1934.
Sec. 503. Obscene programming on cable television.
Sec. 504. Scrambling of cable channels for nonsubscribers.
Sec. 505. Scrambling of sexually explicit adult video service programming.
Sec. 506. Cable operator refusal to carry certain programs.
Sec. 507. Clarification of current laws regarding communication of obscene materials through the use of computers.
Sec. 508. Coercion and enticement of minors.
Sec. 509. Online family empowerment.
Sec. 551. Parental choice in television programming.
Sec. 552. Technology fund.
Sec. 561. Expedited review.
Title VI, "Effect on Other Laws" : Outlines the applicability of consent decrees and other laws and the preemption of local taxation with respect to direct-to-home sales.

Sec. 601. Applicability of consent decrees and other law.
Sec. 602. Preemption of local taxation with respect to direct-to-home services.
Title VII, "Miscellaneous Provisions" : Outlines provisions relating to the prevention of unfair billing practices for information or services provided over toll-free telephone calls, privacy of consumer information, pole attachments, facilities siting, radio frequency emission standards, mobile services direct access to long distance carriers, advanced telecommunications incentives, the telecommunications development fund, the National Education Technology Funding Corporation, a report on the use of advance telecommunications services for medical purposes, and outlines the authorization of appropriations.

Sec. 701. Prevention of unfair billing practices for information or services provided over toll-free telephone calls.
Sec. 702. Privacy of customer information.
Sec. 703. Pole attachments.
Sec. 704. Facilities siting; radio frequency emission standards.
Sec. 705. Mobile services direct access to long distance carriers.
Sec. 706. Advanced telecommunications incentives.
Sec. 707. Telecommunications Development Fund.
Sec. 708. National Education Technology Funding Corporation.
Sec. 709. Report on the use of advanced telecommunications services for medical purposes.
Sec. 710. Authorization of appropriations.[19]
The Act makes a significant distinction between providers of telecommunications services and information services. The term 'telecommunications service' means the offering of telecommunications for a fee directly to the public, or to such classes of users as to be effectively available directly to the public, regardless of the facilities used.' On the other hand, the term 'information service' means the offering of a capability for generating, acquiring, storing, transforming, processing, retrieving, utilizing, or making available information via telecommunications, and includes electronic publishing, but does not include any use of any such capability for the management, control, or operation of a telecommunications system or the management of a telecommunications service. The distinction comes into play when a carrier provides information services. A carrier providing information services is not a 'telecommunications carrier' under the act. For example, a carrier is not a 'telecommunications carrier' when it is selling broadband Internet access. This distinction becomes particularly important because the act enforces specific regulations against 'telecommunications carriers' but not against carriers providing information services. With the convergence of telephone, cable, and internet providers, this distinction has created much controversy.

The Act both deregulated and created new regulations. Congress forced local telephone companies to share their lines with competitors at regulated rates if "the failure to provide access to such network elements would impair the ability of the telecommunications carrier seeking access to provide the services that it seeks to offer." (Section 251(3)(2)(B)) This led to the creation of a new group of telephone companies, "Competitive Local Exchange Carriers" (CLECs), that compete with "ILECs" or incumbent local exchange carriers.

Most media ownership regulations were eased, and the cap on radio station ownership was eliminated.

Title V of the 1996 Act is the Communications Decency Act, aimed at regulating Internet indecency and obscenity, but was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court for violating the First Amendment. Portions of Title V remain, including the Good Samaritan Act, which protects ISPs from liability for third party content on their services, and legal definitions of the Internet.

The U.S. Congress is currently considering legislation that would overhaul the Telecommunications Act of 1996.[20][21][22]

The Act codified the concept of universal service and led to creation of the Universal Service Fund and E-rate.

Claims made in opposition to the act
When the smaller CLECs faced financial problems, the trend toward competition slowed, turning into a decade of reconsolidation. [Marcus] The two largest CLECs, Teleport Communications Group (TCG) and Metropolitan Fiber Systems (MFS) were acquired by AT&T and MCI/WorldCom.

Looking back five years after the bill, the Consumers Union reported that wire to wire competition, the reason that sold the bill, had not succeeded as legislators had hoped. CLECs had captured just under seven percent of total lines in the country, and only three percent of homes and small businesses. Wire to wire competition only accounted for one percent of total lines nationwide.

The Consumers Union also raises one other major point. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 did not foster competition among ILECs as the bill had hoped. Instead, of ILECs encroaching on each other, the opposite occurred - mergers. Before the 1996 Act was passed, the largest four ILECs owned less than half of all the lines in the country while five years later the largest four local telephone companies own about 85% of all the lines in the country.[23]

Robert Crandall has argued that the forced-access provisions of the 1996 Act have had little economic value, and the primary, sustainable competitive forces in phone and related, non-'radio', telecommunications are the wireline telephone companies, the cable companies, and the wireless companies.

The Act was claimed to foster competition. Instead, it continued the historic industry consolidation reducing the number of major media companies from around 50 in 1983 to 10 in 1996[24] and 6 in 2005.[25] An FCC study found that the Act had led to a drastic decline in the number of radio station owners, even as the actual number of commercial stations in the United States had increased.[26]

Consumer activist Ralph Nader argued the act was an example of corporate welfare spawned by political corruption, because it gave away to incumbent broadcasters valuable licenses for broadcasting digital signals on the public airwaves.[27][28] There was a requirement in the act that the FCC not auction off the public spectrum which the FCC itself valued at $11–$70 billion.[27][29]

Definitions
The Act employs the following terms of art:

Information service
"The offering of a capability for generating, acquiring, storing, transforming, processing, retrieving, utilizing, or making available information via telecommunications.” (Title I, Section 3(20) of the 1934 Act)

See also
Communications Act of 1934
COPE Act of 2006
Forced-access regulation
Internet Freedom and Nondiscrimination Act of 2006
Telecommunications Act of 2005
Orwell Rolls in His Grave, 2003 documentary film
United States v. Playboy Entertainment Group
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