Blunt: Obama should not circumvent Congress on net neutrality plan

President Barack Obama’s request that the Federal Communications Commission reclassify broadband Internet connection as a utility would hurt innovation, hamper job growth and be bad for consumers, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said on Monday.

“The rapid expansion and evolution of broadband networks have been continuous drivers of growth and have added to the efficiencies and competitiveness of every sector of our nation’s economy,” Blunt said.

Obama released a statement from Asia on Monday calling on the FCC to adopt the strictest rules possible to preserve net neutrality, a concept that at its core is about broadband companies speeding up certain content in exchange for payment while blocking or intentionally slowing down other content.

“For almost a century, our law has recognized that companies who connect you to the world have special obligations not to exploit the monopoly they enjoy over access into and out of your home or business,” Obama said. “It is common sense that the same philosophy should guide any service that is based on the transmission of information — whether a phone call or a packet of data.”

Blunt says the statement ignores a 1996 move by Congress to intentionally separate information services from heavily regulated services to spur economic investment. Since that time, an estimated $1.3 trillion has been spent to expand broadband availability across the country.

“The president’s call for Internet regulation hurts innovation, hampers job growth and is bad for consumers,” Blunt said. “Instead of circumventing Congress in favor of action by the executive branch, the president should listen to the American people who just spoke on Nov. 4th and demanded that the administration work with Congress to enact policies that will get our country back on track.”