As an anti-tax advocate, I've long supported efforts to reduce the tax burden. During times of economic turmoil, policymakers too often resort to raising taxes rather than cutting spending and easing the growth-retarding burden of regulations.
Traveling across the country, I find little desire for tax increases. This is especially true in Oklahoma and why so many of you voted for conservatives who promised to block tax increases. Yet many of these politicians are considering supporting legislation that would increase taxes on communications services.
Each month, wireless and landline customers are taxed to support Oklahoma's Universal Service Fund, which grows annually and is used to bolster the profits of certain telephone companies that use outdated copper wire infrastructure. To make matters worse, House Bill 2194 would make consumers pay even more. This tax guarantees that phone companies will continue to provide antiquated technologies to consumers who are less and less interested in buying.
Copper networks have been rendered obsolete by next-generation technologies. This is why consumers are abandoning outdated copper services and instead are opting for more reliable wireless and wired IP-based networks. The notion that government bureaucracy should give taxpayer money to companies that offer services that people don't want is absurd. These companies must find ways to compete for our business without taxpayer subsidies and remain viable in the 21st-century economy.
Oklahomans don't need new taxes, they need their elected officials to live up to their promises and curb out-of-control taxation.
Steve Forbes, New York, N.Y.
Forbes is chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media. Versions of HB 2194 have passed in the Oklahoma House and Senate. Those versions will be reconciled by a conference committee.