White House proposes new $5 per year cell phone tax - Fox 2 News Headlines

Proposed new $5 per year cell phone tax could be used to bring more U.S. schools online

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(WJBK) -

It's an ambitious plan.

Expand high-speed internet access in schools so students can use digital notebooks and teachers can customize lessons like never before.

But what will it cost... And who will foot the bill?

The answer is just a smartphone away as the White House considers adding a new surcharge to your cell phone bill.

White House senior advisers have described the little-known proposal, announced earlier this summer under the name ConnectEd, as one of the biggest potential achievements of President Obama's second term.

The proposal costs billions of dollars, and the president wants to pay for it by raising fees on mobile phone users.

White House officials, quoted in the New York Post, say each phone user will end up paying about $5 extra per year on their bill, or around $0.40 each month.

Doing that relies on approval by the Federal Communications Commission, an independent agency that has the power to reject or approve the plan.

The Administration is already defending the initiative that will add yet another line to the sometimes bewildering list of taxes, government fees and regulatory surcharges that you find on your cell phone bill every month.

Deputy White House Press Secretary John Earnest says, "You would think that connecting schools to the information superhighway would be a pretty noncontroversial topic, particularly when it's something that could be accomplished through a relatively modest investment."

But the issue isn't necessarily the goal -- it's the way the President is going about it.

While Congress is supposed to sign off on any new taxes, the President will instead lean on his appointees to the federal communications commission to unilaterally impose the tax.

"This is not the way that we govern," says FoxNews contributor Charles Krauthammer. "And this is about the tenth time in his administration that he has gone around the congress in ways that are clearly unconstitutional."

Now much of this may hinge on the White House convincing the Senate to sign off on a new FCC chairman -- a former telecommunications lobbyist who was also a fundraiser for the President.

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