Although Congress has recently shot down several different versions of a ‘net neutrality’ plan that would force large websites that have heavy traffic to pay more to internet service providers or face throttling, congress wasn’t as quick to shoot down a recently proposed tax on internet surfing to consumers.
Beginning in 2015, users of all internet services – including Time Warner Cable, Verizon FiOS, and Cox Communications among others – will be expected to pay an hourly fee of approximately $3 for basic internet service, on top of your normal monthly bill.
“It’s stupid, and it’s outrageous,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). “If I were on the committee to prevent the Internet chargers and the Wall Street fat cats from pushing this through, I would have done my best to nip this in the bud. But I was traveling and I missed the vote,” she said.
House Speaker John Boehner was not as critical. “I don’t think $3 is too much to pay for a service that essentially brings the world to your doorstep. With this increased revenue, [the government] can help to balance the budget, and get our economy to where it used to be. The President has run into the ground, through his many policies and legislations, this country and our dollar, mostly because he comes up with ideas and we refuse to act. But regardless, this tax will help many.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) rejected an addendum to the bill that would have provided a “hardship exemption” for those not able to afford the monthly fee.
“People who can’t afford the fee aren’t going to be spending money online anyway,” McConnell explained, ”and giving them another handout is not helping the economy. This way, slowly but surely, one hour at a time, we’ll get the country back on its feet. Just like the story with the turtle and the hare, slow and steady wins the race!”
The average person spends up to 11 hours per day on some sort of internet service, whether it be through a computer, tablet, or cell phone. A conservative fee estimate would set back a typical American family nearly $10,000 per year, depending on their internet usage.
Consumers have reacted with shock and anger. “I’m going back to old-fashioned letter writing,” said heavy Internet user and single mother Samira Wells. “If it’s a choice between getting on Facebook and feeding my babies, I’m going to feed my babies. Wait ’til my Facebook friends hear about this,” she added.
“This is governmental influence run amok,” said Consumer Advocate Ralph Nader. “I may have to run for President again to enact legislation to invalidate this act of Congressional overreach.”
Many questions remain unanswered. What about people who already pay per hour for certain subscription services? Won’t they be paying double? Congress hasn’t answered that question yet, but political pundits say that many congressional leaders will have plenty of answers prepared for the millions of voters out there before the 2016 elections season heats up.