Republicans like Marco Rubio constantly tout the inherent advantages of the “free market” and the unbridled competition that it at least theoretically entails. Such competition is indeed beneficial to consumers in that it provides better and cheaper goods and services. Yet even such staunch proponents of laissez-faire capitalism, or at least their tax-the-poor-and-subsidize-the-rich version of it, are quick to abandon these supposedly unshakable principles when it comes to their own further enrichment, and Marco Rubio’s recent actions are a perfect example of this hypocrisy.
Recently, many municipalities, such as have begun providing their citizens with broadband access at much faster speeds and much cheaper prices than the major private telecom companies, such as AT&T. Chattanooga, TN, for example, has implemented a municipal broadband network that provides data at one gegabit per second – 50 times faster than the average AT&T customer – for as little as $70 per month. Despite the overwhelming benefits to American citizens that such public broadband networks provide, telecom conglomerates such as Comcast and AT&T have used the tremendous influence that their money buys to force state legislatures into passing laws banning public broadband networks for no conceivable reason.
Last week, Marco Rubio joined the massive big-business campaign against Americans’ right to Internet access by signing a letter to the Federal Communications Committee (FCC) urging them to block municipalities from enacting public broadband networks, which, to their credit, the FCC has been reluctant to do.
Rubio would undoubtedly insist that his support for the stifling measure that hurts American consumers and unrelated to his deep ties to the telecom industry, his employment of a prominent AT&T lobbyist, support of an AT&T law firm that is fighting the FCC, his former chief of staff moving on to lobby for AT&T, and the hundreds of thousands of dollars the telecom industry has raised for his campaign. To me, for one, that seems like a little more than a coincidence. But I’m sure that someone like Mr. Rubio, who is so committed to his constituency that he attends Senate votes a full two-thirds of the time, wouldn’t sacrifice his fundamental belief in the free market for the benefit of his big-money donors. Right?
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.