IS MICHAEL POWELL ABOUT TO BLOW IT as chairman of the FCC? Jim Glasman thinks so:
Powell is becoming the worst sort of out-of-control regulator, adding uncertainty and instability to an industry that needs precisely the opposite. He’s set to roll over the traditional authority of the states and introduce the same kind of government-led industrial policy that Republicans campaigned against in the 1980s. If he continues on the present course, the White House will suffer. It’s surprising the administration didn’t take Powell to the woodshed long ago.
The truth is that the chairman of the FCC does need to take decisive action, but, instead of destroying a law passed overwhelmingly by Congress (including every leading conservative legislator), the chairman needs to reaffirm it. After years of waffling, he should say, loud and clear, that he will enforce the Telecom Act and aggressively defend it in the courts and on the Hill.
After all, the law is finally working – and benefiting consumers and small businesses with lower rates and higher quality through competition. Going into the mid-term elections, the Bush Administration has a success on its hands. The states where reforms have produced the best results are important vote-rich political battlegrounds like Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and New York. The White House would be nuts if it did not exert some not-so-subtle persuasion to divert Powell from taking a reckless and damaging step.