Higher cellphone fee could pay for Internet for students
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A higher fee on cellphone bills from Uncle Sam would pay for a new project to connect more school children to the web.
Some in Washington say it's a waste of money.
President Barack Obama wants to add a fee to the already long list of taxes and surcharges cellphone owners find on their bill every month.
The extra money would be used to provide high-speed internet to 99 percent of students across the country within five years.
The average cellphone user would pay about 40 cents more a month or $3 to $5 more a year.
"That would expand educational opportunities for students in a really important way. It would also give teachers access to materials," spokesperson Josh Earnest said in a White House briefing.
The estimated cost of the plan is between $4 billion and $6 billion.
Taxpayer watchdogs say it's too expensive.
"Taxpayers are paying billions of dollars in other programs to do this. This program is duplicative. It's a new tax," David Williams of the Taxpayer Protection Alliance said.
The goal isn't necessarily controversial but the way the president is going about it is.
Congress is supposed to approve any new taxes.
The president is turning to the Federal Communications Commission to impose the tax.
"There's checks and balances for a reason. When you go around those checks and balances, it only hurts the system and consumers," Williams said.
The FCC is an independent agency.
Some Republicans are promising congressional hearings to pressure the FCC to side against the plan.
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