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'Asking them to pay a fair share': GOP lawmakers reportedly toying with new tax on Big Tech

Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images

Republicans have long claimed to hate raising or creating new taxes.

Lately, the party has also highlighted its apparent hatred — or at least extreme dislike — for Big Tech, believing (with reason) that tech companies are showing an anti-Republican bias by censoring, silencing, and banning stories that could hurt the left's chosen narratives.

Now the party has apparently found itself in a bit of a quandary: Whether or not to push a new tax on Big Tech.

What's happening?

Axios reported Monday that "key Republicans" are "warming" to the idea of leveling new taxes on major U.S. companies to subsidize a program to provide "broadband in rural areas, schools, libraries and hospitals."

According to the outlet, the idea came from Republican FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, who has suggested instituting a new tax on Big Tech companies to fund a pool of funds for internet access.

Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) appears to be open to the idea, Axios said.

"Any conversation about building out broadband for unserved Americans should include a Big Tech user fee that corresponds to their use of that infrastructure," a McCarthy spokesperson told the outlet. "Funding for the Universal Service Fund — which is increasingly at odds with the principle of user pays — needs to be updated and reimagined."

The FCC's Universal Service Fund is currently covered largely by fees American users pay on their phone bills.

Senate Commerce Committee ranking member Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) wants to explore the issue, his staff told Axios. And Washington GOP Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the ranking member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said "all options should be on the table," the outlet said.

The GOP lawmakers' willingness to consider the new tax lines up with Republicans' reported backing for Big Tech antitrust bills.

Axios said Carr wants big companies like Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook that benefit from internet networks to pay into the Universal Service Fund.

The FCC commissioner claims the new tax idea is "simply asking them to pay a fair share and start contributing on an equitable basis for these networks that they benefit from so tremendously."

For example, Carr said, Apple would pay for the App Store, Amazon for cloud and streaming services, and Facebook and Google for online advertising.

What is Big Tech's reaction?

Naturally, Big Tech isn't a fan of the idea.

The Internet Association trade group, which includes the aforementioned companies, believes the tax idea is nothing more than an attempt to punish Big Tech members.

Internet Association President K. Dane Snowden told Axios, "We hope the FCC will take a common sense approach and not punish innovative, high-quality streaming services that are fulfilling consumer demand."

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