President Obama announced his support Monday for net neutrality. And Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz let loose one of his biggest howls, tweeting:
"Net Neutrality" is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government.
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) November 10, 2014
Cruz really really does not like net neutrality. His stance is predictable, when you consider who is in favor of a neutral net: “nearly every pro-consumer organization on Earth, including the Consumers Union and Common Cause. Also, the creators of the Internet (including Vinton Cerf) and the Web (including Tim Berners-Lee). And every true believer in free speech, innovation and the American way,” as David Pogue wrote for Scientific American on March 18.
Also making Cruz’s stance predictable is the President’s support for net neutrality. If O
bama said that breathing is important for life, Cruz would probably announce his eternal hostility to the tyranny of respiration. And so, in his latest verbal bomb toss, Cruz has compared net neutrality to that most infamous rightwing bugaboo: ObamaCare.
Still, Ted Cruz almost has a point. Net neutrality does have some superficial similarities with ObamaCare.
The Affordable Care Act exists because the healthcare system is broken. Big corporations—insurance companies—were taking advantage of patients by denying coverage or charging ridiculous sums for preexisting conditions. And tens of millions had no insurance at all. Something had to be done.
Liberals proposed government oversight to at least begin to level the playing field. And many millions of people who formerly were uninsured now have access to affordable health care coverage. Republicans pushed back, arguing that the insurance market might not be perfect, but it’s the best system that we’ve got. Big government will only make things worse.
The net neutrality lobby exists because the Internet is soon to be broken. Big corporations—like Comcast and Verizon—are trying to take advantage of consumers by denying broadband access, charging exorbitant sums for faster Internet speeds by creating a multi-tiered access system. Something has to be done.
Again, liberals have proposed government oversight. They want to empower the feds, through the FCC, to maintain the mostly level playing field that the Internet has been from its inception. Republicans are pushing back, arguing that the Internet might not be perfect, but it’s the best system that we’ve got. And big government will only make the “it’s not a big truck, it’s a series of tubes” worse.
So Ted Cruz is not completely out in left field. Well, in his case, deep right field. Net neutrality has a resemblance to Obamacare in that both systems aim to provide the most affordable, most comprehensive coverage to the most people. And, naturally, both systems come at a cost—bigger government.
While you're mulling that over, check out this Net Neutrality breakdown on The Oatmeal.