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Democrats Propose $40 Billion in “Last Mile” Rural Broadband Funding

Phillip Dampier March 8, 2018 Community Networks, Consumer News, Public Policy & Gov't, Rural Broadband 9 Comments

The Democrats are countering the Trump Administration’s economic proposals with plans of their own they broadly call “A Better Deal.”

Democrats in Washington are countering President Donald Trump’s lack of commitment to earmark funding for rural broadband with a $40 billion plan of their own that is part of a broader trillion-dollar infrastructure investment package released Wednesday.

The plan, “Returning the Republican Tax Giveaways for the Wealthy to the American People,” specifically targets funding for a new, last-mile focused, broadband expansion program that would target funding specifically to providing broadband service to the homes and businesses in the country that cannot get the service now.

“The electricity of 2017 is high-speed Internet,” according to the Democrats. “While the private sector has delivered high-speed internet to many, millions of Americans in less profitable rural and urban areas have been left out.”

Rural broadband is expected to become a campaign issue in the midterm elections, as Democrats push their new working and middle class recovery program they call “A Better Deal,” reminiscent of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal” program during the Depression of the 1930s.

The Democrats claim they will do a better job overcoming the digital divide by forcing providers to compete for public funding. In contrast, the Trump Administration’s general infrastructure program offered $200 billion for all types of infrastructure projects, with no funding earmarked for broadband. But most of that money can only be unlocked if a private company enters into a public-private partnership with the government and agrees to invest even more in private dollars than the federal government will offer in supplementary funding.

The Democrats also claim their broadband investment program will be open to public providers like municipalities, co-ops, and publicly owned utilities, not just private companies. The Republicans have generally opposed municipal broadband projects, although there are some exceptions in rural areas where local and state officials share the frustration of bypassed local residents.


“If you actually get out to Trump country and talk to folks, you will discover that they are angry and frustrated and pissed off that the companies won’t serve them (because it is too expensive to provide service) and won’t let them deploy their own networks,” wrote Harold Feld, senior vice president at the consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge, in a Facebook post this week. “Traditionally, rural Republicans have been eager to use the tools of government to bring essential services to rural America. If this helps pressure rural Republicans to break with the anti-government mantra and return to traditional bipartisan approaches to bringing service to rural America, so much the better.”

Moderate Democrats in states with large rural populations are especially excited by the Democratic plan.

“The way we speak in plain-speaking West Virginia, this is a really good deal,” said Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.V.) at a news conference Thursday. “All of you who’ve come from urban areas, you take this for granted.”

The rural broadband funding is part of a much larger $1 trillion investment package paid for by reversing certain tax breaks. The corporate tax rate, which was slashed from 35 percent to 21 percent under the Republican plan, would be raised to 25 percent under the Democratic plan. Democrats are also seeking to restore estate taxes on couples earning over $11 million annually.

Currently there are 9 comments on this Article:

  1. EJ says:

    We will see if this is offered to EVERYONE and not just the local large teleco On top of it we need to also address under-serviced smaller cities. EVERYONE should have the opportunity; that includes the wireless industry, cable companies, Co-op, satellite and yes even municipal. All should have equal footing and an opportunity to bring affordable and adequate broadband to all. We shall see how free from influence the “Democrats” really are. I have my doubts.

    • kaniki says:

      I looked it up, and only 6% of the population does not have access to high speed internet.. But personally, I think what is a bigger problem is, being able to afford it. No matter how many people have access to it, it means nothing if they can not get it hooked up. It is like where I live. I have high speed, but am going to have to drop it at the end of the month because I can not afford it any more. I am living off of disability.. Most people I know living off of SS or SSD, have at the most, about $1100 coming in.. and that is on the high end.. Then take out things like insurance, rent, etc.. After you do that, how many people do you think can afford to take $65 a month to get internet?? I have 3 neighbors behind me, that do not have the internet at home, because they can not afford it. The people a few houses up from me dropped it because of the same reason.

      When you look at everyone like that, what percent do you think is there, of the people that have access to it, but do not have it because they can not afford it. My guess is, more people do not have it because they can not afford it, then that of those that just do not have access because of it not being in their neighborhood. and as such, it is like you said.. Everyone should have the opportunity.. and if you can not afford it, you really do not have the opportunity.. Funny how the Democrats are completely ignoring this fact though, and act like just because, it is available in your neighborhood, that if you do not have it, it is because you do not want to.. Not to mention, all the people with access, but can not do a lot because of data caps too..

  2. Limboaz says:

    Why does everything the Democrats do seem so contrived and hyper partisan? We finally got our corporate rate down to a competitive level that compares well to every other developed nation, and they can’t leave well enough alone.

    • kaniki says:

      It is in name only.. They say things like, but it is bipartisan, to make them look good.. and then when things fail, it gives them a way to blame others for its failure. Look at the ACA.. That is a good example.. It was written in a way, that it could NOT be sustained as intended.. and when I say intended, it was originally intended to be self supported.. That failed miserably.. Now things are going crazy with it, and they are blaming Trump, and the Republicans for its failure..

      Notice how it was “bipartisan” and yet, it was a mainly democratic plan.. very few changes were made on the Republican side.. and not enough to make any real differences.. But yet, they will stand back and say, but it was a bipartisan plan, not completely ours, even though it was actually about 97% a democrat plan.. and yet, how they are pushing blame onto others for how bad it is failing. This is really no different.. They will say it is bipartisan.. But, in the end, if things do not work out as planned.. and most likely won’t.. They will push blame on others, and use that “bi-partisan” part as a scape goat for their failure.. Yet, they love to take full credit when it does work out.. It is all in the wording..

  3. kaniki says:

    Wow.. That leaves so much to be desired, that it is not even funny.. Rural Republicans are… I love how they leave out the Democrats there. Ironic how they talk like they have all the answers now that a Republican is in office.. Yet, they did NOTHING to fix this with 8 years in office before now.. Hmm.. Not only that, but they talk like they are the “fix all’s” of the internet..

    But lets look at things realistically. No matter how much you put the ability to get it there, it means nothing if you can not afford it. I used to have TWC, and now have spectrum.. TWC gave you the option of a $15 plan for 3 meg down. Not really fast, but fast enough to get on the net. That was at a cost that pretty much “EVERYONE” could afford.. Then they went up from there, to 45, and 55 and… dollar plans, so you had choices.. Spectrum comes in, after buying them out under Democratic rule, and now, the lowest price plan is $65.. How many people can NOT afford $65?? A LOT!!! How many people have LOST internet access, because of these price increases?? A LOT!! Don’t even get me started on how they have done nothing to stop data caps on plans either.

    But yet, they seem to do NOTHING about this.. and then talk about how they are going to fix things.. Hmm.. Seems like they screwed things up already.. So how do they expect me to believe that they will make things better?? Personally, at least 90% of the people that I have talked to, do not have high speed internet access, or have had it shut off.. and the reason is because, spectrum took over, prices went up, and now, no one can afford it. Most that do still have it, have grandfathered in plans (like TWC’s ELP plan).. and if they loose that, they will have to have theirs shut off too, because of the price increases.

    So much for their “The Democrats claim they will do a better job overcoming the digital divide” comment.. Seems they already failed at that one.

  4. EJ says:

    Corporate rate down, but left most the loop holes wide open (don’t forget that). As for the Democrats they are nothing more then Republican lite when it comes to the base of the party. You aren’t going to see anything new until something new comes along. If you want something with substance my suggestion is vote third party whether it be progressive democrat (true progressive not neoliberal), the soon to be formed true labor party, green party, independent, or libertarian. All of these parties have something to prove so you can bet they will bring it to the best of there ability if elected. As for right now just take it for what it is and white knuckle it the best you can. It is time to dump this two party concept before it is to late. We are running out of runway with these clowns in charge, but hey if you are old enough you will probably not be affected. So sit back and keeping electing in these clowns and hand your kids and kids, kids a fat juicy [email protected]^t sandwich.

    Now back to the topic at hand. This is the democrat and republican way. Come out with plans when your not in power so you can blame the other guy. Two parties of no and no good ideas. It is simple political logic at its best.

    • kaniki says:

      Left most loop holes wide open?? and you expected them to close them?? If they did, it would hurt them, and they are too greedy for that.. As for the third party thing.. It depends on the candidate.. Bernie Sanders was a 3rd party, turn democrat, and while I did like some stuff about him.. I completely lost all respect of him when he started cow tailing to people. Look at when the BLM group came up on his stage.. Instead of having them escorted off, he backed down, and stopped his rally.

      I can understand standing up for what is right, and not wanting to do anything that loses votes.. but, if you are either too one sided to a group because of their race.. Or, if you just did not have the guts to stand up to them.. as a regular person.. Then how the heck is anyone supposed to have faith that he can make the right decisions, under pressure, as president?? My opinion.. it is like shooting darts with a blind fold on, trying to get any kind of a good person in office.. Because, most of the people that even run, are already a politician at heart. It does not matter if they are DEM, REP, or Ind.. They are pretty much all like that in the end.. It ends up usually being, vote for the least of the evils, and hope for the best..

      In the end, I would say comes down to who is voting, and how much intelligence they have, as to how things turn out. Too many people have none, and vote straight one way.. and when you do that, you are not voting for the best one for the job.. You are voting on a biased, or one sided view, with the assumption that they can do not wrong, or the other side can do no right. You know how many people I heard voting for Obama just because he was black.. and how many I heard vote for Hillary just because she is a woman.. In the end, i would say that about 80% of the votes are done like that, and only 20%, at best, are actually done by people who vote the best way, by facts.. not by sex, race, or political side.. The fact that certain states almost always vote Rep, or Dem should prove that fact by itself.

  5. EJ says:

    Actually it was screwed up by Bill Clinton era if you want to get technical. You blamed the wrong supposed Democrat kaniki. I shouldn’t say it is solely on him, but he did crack the door open for abuse. Without the deregulation of phone the logic thing probably would of happened. Internet would of fell into some sort of regulation.

    • kaniki says:

      I did not mean it as it was one person, or anothers fault, but more like, they are sitting there talking about Republicans are… while this stuff happened strictly under Democratic rule.. So in essence, they have no room to talk.. Yes, stuff did happen under Clinton, but, the fact is, that merger.. or maybe I should say take over, was done strictly under Obama.. He had the power back then, that if he wanted to stop it, he could have. Just like how they stopped T-Mobile from combining with sprint, and such.. The same could be said for the insurance thing too.. Clinton may have been a factor in the start of things.. But, both of those were set up, and fully put through, on Obama’s watch.. It is just sad to see them sitting there, putting blame on… when they clearly had the chance to change things, and did nothing.. Then sit back and tell others how they are doing it wrong.. All parties do this, but, the democrats.. Especially the Liberal end of them, have gotten VERY bad at things lately. I would say that they went from being probably a 5 or maybe 6 on doing things right, down to a 2 lately. The Republicans have done wrong, but they have at least stayed someone steady in their crap level.. Easy to criticize, when you have nothing to loose I guess..

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