Open Line Friday today on the show. This is your Morning Brief for November 14, 2014.

Mark Wilson, Getty Images
Mark Wilson, Getty Images

Cruz Wants Government to Stay Away from the Internet

Senator Ted Cruz laid out four principles in the Washington Post that should guide lawmakers during the net neutrality debate.

Four basic principles should guide policymakers, in a bipartisan manner, to preserve America’s leadership role in developing the future of the Internet.

First, we must abandon the idea of further taxing Internet access and sales. At this very moment, online retailers face an enormous threat because Washington may pass a massive, new Internet sales tax during the next two months of the lame-duck session of Congress. As the hashtag puts it,#NoNetTax.

Such a tax would force online retailers to comply with every sales tax jurisdiction in the country. There are more than 9,600 state and local sales tax jurisdictions across the nation. Forcing small online retailers to track all of them, keep records and collect the taxes, or risk being penalized for non-compliance by distant governments over whom they have no control is simply not fair.

But lobbyists in Washington love the Internet sales tax, because it benefits big business at the expense of the mom-and-pop online retailers — many of whom are women, minorities or young people struggling to achieve the American dream.

It would be a crying shame if the first thing Republicans do after winning a historic election is return to Washington for a lame-duck session and pass an unprecedented, massive new tax requirement — up to $340 billion over 10 years — on Internet sales nationwide.

Instead, the new Republican Congress, when it is sworn in, should demonstrate its commitment to a free, thriving Internet by making permanent the ban, originally signed into law by President Bill Clinton, on imposing any additional taxes on Internet access.

Second, we should dismiss all plans to give nations hostile to human rights and democracy more influence over Internet policy.

Earlier this year, the Obama administration took steps to end its contractwith ICANN, a California nonprofit organization that manages basic Internet functions, including the creation of Web addresses and domain names. Once this contract expires, ICANN will be governed by a global, multi-stakeholder community that could grant nations such as Iran, Russia and China more authority over the rules and regulations that govern the Internet.

The likes of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Chinese President Xi Jinping should not dictate what can be read, written, distributed, bought and sold on the Internet. Countries that do not give their own people the right to speak freely deserve no say in what Americans can say and do on the Internet.

Third, we must promote growth in the technological sector, a consistent bright spot for the U.S. economy. But we won’t realize more of that dynamic growth unless we keep the Internet free from the kind of unnecessary regulation that is strangling our health-care, energy and banking industries.

And one of the biggest regulatory threats to the Internet is net neutrality.

In short, net neutrality is Obamacare for the Internet. It would put the government in charge of determining Internet pricing, terms of service and what types of products and services can be delivered, leading to fewer choices, fewer opportunities and higher prices.

Fourth, we must recognize that our constitutional rights are digital rights, too. In 2012, those who care about Internet freedom were shocked as bills such as the Stop Online Piracy and Protect IP acts, which would regulate speech on the Internet under the guise of protecting privacy rights, started gaining popularity in Washington. Thankfully, online activists were quick to mobilize to protect their free-speech rights. But we must remain vigilant. Intellectual property must be defended, but any threat to quell speech on the Internet must be treated seriously and subsequently defeated.

We don’t leave our constitutional rights behind when we go online. The same commitment to the principles of liberty that made the United States the greatest economic superpower that the world has ever seen must prevail in the virtual world as well.


GOP Warns Obama Over Immigration

According to FOX News, Republican lawmakers are not happy over reports that President Obama plans to use executive action as soon as next Friday on the issue of immigration.

Republican lawmakers blasted the White House on the heels of a Fox News report that President Obama is planning to unveil a 10-part plan for overhauling U.S. immigration policy via executive action as early as next week – with one GOP leader warning there will be “an explosion” if the president moves too soon.

A source close to the White House told Fox News that Obama could announce as early as next Friday. The president's plans were contained in a draft proposal from a U.S. government agency – it includes a plan to suspend deportations for millions.

As Democratic lawmakers and immigrant advocacy groups urge Obama to act as soon as possible, Republicans bristled at the apparently looming announcement.

"He will make the issue absolutely toxic for a decade,” Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., said Thursday.

One concern is that Obama would act before a Dec. 11 deadline for passing a new spending bill. Doing so could thrust the immigration debate into the budget process, with conservatives threatening to yank money from the immigration effort – and potentially triggering another showdown that could result in a partial government shutdown.

Indeed, Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., already has gathered dozens of signatures on a letter calling for no funding for “the President’s reported intentions to create work permits and green cards for undocumented immigrants currently in the United States.”

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., said Thursday if Obama acts before the spending bill is done, there will be an “explosion.”

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., meanwhile, reiterated his concerns that the president would be acting outside the law.

“The president has no authority to do this. It's against the law,” he told Fox News.

The draft plan contains 10 initiatives that span everything from boosting bordersecurity to improving pay for immigration officers. But the most controversial pertain to the millions who could get a deportation reprieve under what is known as "deferred action."

The plan calls for expanding deferred action for illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children -- but also for the parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.

The latter could allow upwards of 4.5 million illegal immigrant adults with U.S.-born children to stay, according to estimates.

Sessions voiced concerns that illegal immigrants could simply fib in order to meet the criteria for the program. Further, he said millions more people would then be “entitled” to U.S. privileges including health care.

Republicans should be furious with the White House if Obama moves forward with his plans. As I've said before though, what will they actually do about it?

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