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President Barack Obama has inserted authorization for his long desired wireless spectrum auction into American Jobs Act.  (Source: Newscom)

The auction would allow TV broadcasters to sell unused spectrum to wireless carriers, splitting the profits with the government. Wireless carriers could then use the spectrum to speed up smart phone connections.  (Source: Backpack Tactics)

The government would use its earnings to create an emergency broadcast Wi-Fi network to be used by firefighters and police during emergencies.  (Source: Corbis)
Spectrum sale would eventually boost 4G speeds and coverage, fund a national emergency Wi-Fi network

Sneaky, sneaky -- remember U.S. President Barack Obama's big American Jobs Act, which he was plugging before the NFL season opener last Thursday?  Well, the proposed legislation was released Monday and it included a little something extra -- proposed authorization for the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to hold a special wireless spectrum auction, something President Obama has long been pushing.

Telecommunications companies like Verizon Communications Inc. (
VZ), AT&T, Inc. (T), and Sprint Nextel Corp. (S) have been pushing for this auction for a long time.  They warn that they're running out of spectrum to deploy faster 4G wireless connections.  Meanwhile, they point out that many TV broadcasters are sitting on large unused chunks of spectrum.

The auction would likely be held sometime early next year and would be an incentive-based auction.  TV broadcasters would not be required to participate, but those who do would split the profits of sales of their unused spectrum with the government.

A handful of TV broadcasters are excited about the potential revenue from the option.  But a noisy contingent has protested the auction.  They claim that the FCC has not sufficiently considered interference that use of the spectrum for wireless devices might cause.  Thus they argue that their fellow broadcasters 
should not be allowed to sell their spectrum, and the auction should be scrapped.

The proposed spectrum auction has largely stalled thus far due to these protests.  Now it may finally advance.

If the auction is authorized, it would use $6.5B USD raised from the auction to 
fund the national Wi-Fi emergency broadcast network.  Firefighters, police, and other first responders would utilize the network.

The network was first proposed in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks of 2001 after emergency responders struggled to communicate with each other in the chaotic aftermath.  In early 2009, at the start of Obama's presidency an auction looked to create a public/private partnership to fund the network.  However, the auction failed due to lack of interest.

If the new plan succeeds, a 10 MHz block of the 700 MHz band -- the so-called "D-Block – would be applied to building the new network.  The majority of funding would go towards building physical wireless networking infrastructure into most major U.S. cities and securing the resulting network.

In his letter to Congress, Obama promotes the act, but doesn't spend much time specifically promoting the auction provision.  He writes:

To create jobs, I am submitting the American Jobs Act of 2011 -- nearly all of which is made up of the kinds of proposals supported by both Republicans and Democrats, and that the Congress should pass right away to get the economy moving now. The purpose of the American Jobs Act of 2011 is simple: put more people back to work and put more money in the pockets of working Americans.

However, he faces resistance in the House and Senate from his Republican rivals. Representative Eric Cantor, the Republican party House Majority Leader, writes:

What Washington needs and what the American people need is for us to find some agreement and there are plenty of things we can agree on. For instance, on the need for infrastructure spending, we believe that states have monies right now, but Washington has tied up their ability to use those monies. We want to straighten out the system of how money is spent before we start spending more.

We don't support the idea of creating a Fannie and Freddie for roads and bridges in an infrastructure bank. We believe that you can facilitate a better flow of funds to construction projects by fixing the current system. There's plenty for us to work on together. Instead of trying to accentuate where differences are, because good people can disagree, let's try to produce results so the middle class can get back to work in this country.

Like the President, most Republican rivals haven't directly commented on the auction and emergency network deployment plans (though Rep. Cantor's comment seems to allude to the latter deployment).

Thus the fate of President Obama's latest effort to push through the incentive-auction of unused TV spectrum largely rests on his ability to sell the Jobs Act as a whole.



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Should Be Separate
By KPOM1 on 9/14/2011 1:10:14 PM , Rating: 5
This is the kind of thing that should be presented in a separate bill. The jobs bill isn't going to be passed as is. A spectrum auction has its own merits and isn't dependent on anything in the rest of the bill.




RE: Should Be Separate
By Adonlude on 9/14/2011 1:34:01 PM , Rating: 4
It's caled earmarking and its one of the disgusting backroom political tools our politicians rely on. It should be totally illegal along with gerrymandering, campaign contributions and a whole lot more.


RE: Should Be Separate
By Reclaimer77 on 9/14/2011 1:39:07 PM , Rating: 4
It's also something Obama consistently and publicly campaigned on; ending earmarks.


RE: Should Be Separate
By Slaimus on 9/14/2011 3:31:54 PM , Rating: 4
Earmarking means money set aside for specific programs rather than general spending. Underhanded used of this is for pork barrel spending.

This is more of a rider, sort of a sub-bill attached to the main bill. Underhanded use of this is to pass something unpopular with a popular bill, or kill a popular bill by attaching something unpopular.

There are legitimate uses for both, so you cannot really outlaw them.


RE: Should Be Separate
By lolmuly on 9/14/2011 5:17:33 PM , Rating: 1
nope, there is no legitimate use for any of that carp.

Outlaw earmarks.
Outlaw Riders.
Outlaw gerrymandering.
And publicly hang any politician that accepts campaign contributions from any lobbyist, PAC, SuperPAC, business, or person in the top 10% of income earners.

Washington now fixed.


RE: Should Be Separate
By ipay on 9/14/2011 7:40:04 PM , Rating: 3
It's tough to outlaw riders, because it's hard to define it in a way that wouldn't immediately be worked around.

Who determines if something is related to the main bill or not? Would you have a judge ruling on it?


RE: Should Be Separate
By Samus on 9/14/2011 9:51:57 PM , Rating: 2
Whether or not this is earmarking or hypocritical of the President, I can't believe of all people, the readers of this sight are actually complaining about this.

This is all around a good thing for everyone, everywhere, period.

Stop bashing the President because he has no backbone and makes it easy. Bash him for something legitimate. There is plenty of stuff to choose from. Start with his complete failure to negotiate with congress, his move to the middle, and inability to actually create jobs without spending billions of federal dollars to do so.


RE: Should Be Separate
By tastyratz on 9/15/2011 12:44:27 PM , Rating: 1
Or we should bash him for hypocritically attaching this to a completely unrelated bill to try to get it through.
This is something that needs to END. I am sick of big bills being passed with crap like this, or line items to satisfy corrupt political agendas like funding a nascar track (yes, look it up)

The ability to attach what should be completely separate bills to existing ones is a large pat responsible for government overspending and corruption. Complete itemization is the proper way to handle unrelated bills. If that means we need more government put in charge of keeping our existing government honest then so be it.

It would be nice to say that is unnecessary and politicians act on behalf of the good of the people, but believing in unicorns would be cool too.


RE: Should Be Separate
By curelom on 9/14/2011 1:42:53 PM , Rating: 5
This was probably how he was going to pay for part of the bill is through the spectrum sale. Here's an idea, why don't we pay down what we owe already and don't spend anymore.


RE: Should Be Separate
By SpartanJet on 9/14/2011 3:06:51 PM , Rating: 3
Another idea would be to tax the top 2% fairly.


RE: Should Be Separate
By curelom on 9/14/2011 3:20:23 PM , Rating: 2
I suppose you mean to tax them more. If so, you have a bizare definition of "fair". Let's see that the bottom 50% who pay nothing pay their fair share.
I would certainly be for removing tax loopholes to corporations like GE who paid nothing last year in taxes and is shipping 1/5th it's business and jobs over to China.


RE: Should Be Separate
By SpartanJet on 9/14/11, Rating: 0
RE: Should Be Separate
By curelom on 9/14/2011 3:38:40 PM , Rating: 4
It's their money. They earned it. They can use it to create jobs, or blow it on booze and still be more efficient at creating jobs than the government. To raise their tax would be completely unfair, unless you raised everybody elses tax equally. The only trully "fair" way to tax is something such as a flat tax that taxes everybody at the same rate. [sarcasm]Hey let's incentivise to create more "green" jobs. That's not a tax loophole is it.[/sarcasm]


RE: Should Be Separate
By mcnabney on 9/14/2011 3:46:42 PM , Rating: 1
The rich have the most to gain by maintaining the system as is. The money they make is enabled by our current set of governments - Fed, state, and local. The poor don't care. The problem we might eventually get to is when the poor stop following the rules - the rich have a problem. Everyone thinks that things like that won't happen here....until they do.


RE: Should Be Separate
By SpartanJet on 9/14/11, Rating: 0
RE: Should Be Separate
By curelom on 9/14/2011 5:10:04 PM , Rating: 3
I believe just about everybody who pays taxes received cuts. It does work. Regardless of whether they received cuts in the past, if they pay a higher percentage, it is more than their fair share.

The definition for fair is reasonable or unbiased: not exhibiting any bias, and therefore reasonable or impartial.
To pay a different percentage is not fair. The current tax laws have the top 1% of earners pay roughly 38% the federal income tax revenue while only earning 20%. That is NOT fair.


RE: Should Be Separate
By ipay on 9/14/2011 7:47:06 PM , Rating: 2
That's not the only definition of fair. Others might claim that "fair" means that those with the most ability should help the most. Or that it's not "fair" if someone who wouldn't even realize they were being taxed more is getting tax breaks while someone barely able to buy food pays instead. You could also claim that the rich are the ones benefiting the most from the current system of government, which allows them to invest massive amounts of money safely and run profitable businesses, so therefore they should fund the system more than the poor.

Ask 100 different people what's fair and you'll probably get 100 different answers. It's an opinion.


RE: Should Be Separate
By ipay on 9/14/2011 7:52:50 PM , Rating: 2
That said, my personal preference would be to replace the current system with something like this:

A national 10% sales tax on everything.
+ a flat 25% income tax on anything over 1,000,000 per year.

Those numbers might have to be adjusted to match current levels, of course.

That would mean everyone would be paying a certain amount, while letting the vast majority of people not have to worry about yearly income taxes. And it would still tax the wealthy who provide most of the income.


RE: Should Be Separate
By Manualshift on 9/15/2011 7:49:02 PM , Rating: 2
A national sales tax is not a good idea.

The only benefit to the economy i can think of is that illegal money will now contribute....I do like that part.

But the downside far outweighs it. The group that is pushing for a national sales tax is the banks and credit card companies. It would be a windfall for them. Do you really want to be paying interest on your federal taxes as well as your state, which you already do? The percentage of consumer spending that would be diverted to paying interest on taxes would hurt the economy that much more. It would also take away buying power from many that don't have much to begin with.

Think about what your asking for before you get it. Figure out how it would affect a new car purchase with an average car transaction price of $25k+. That's a lot of interest to be paying on taxes.


RE: Should Be Separate
By bigdawg1988 on 9/16/2011 12:54:15 PM , Rating: 2
Well said. Besides, rich people spend far less of their money than they earn (except musicians and athletes). And a lot of rich people don't earn income the same way you and I do. They don't make a paycheck, they earn money through investments. But those investment profits are not taxed at the same rate as income, it's much lower.
And that whole argument about the bottom 50% not paying taxes being unfair is far too simplistic and I wish people would give it up. ]
Try living at the poverty level in this country and let me know how much you have left over to pay for taxes. Besides, we need poor people to keep prices low. Imagine if Walmart had to pay their workers $15/hr. and provided insurance. Think how low their prices would be. Look around at your clean office. Think how much less money for bonuses there would be if the cleaning people were paid more.
Our economic system is not based on "fairness" and neither are the taxes. The reason why rich people should pay more is because they can. Can't squeeze blood out of a turnip and you can't get taxes from no income. Ask Bill Gates and Warren Buffett (and several other billionaires) if they pay their fair share. It's the bottom 98% that spend the money that keeps the top 2% wealthy anyway. Let the top dogs kick in more. They'll get it back anyway....


RE: Should Be Separate
By Keeir on 9/16/2011 7:07:48 PM , Rating: 2
Ouch.

So many problems.

#1. Investment "income" comes in two flavours. Capitol Gains and Dividend. In the case of Dividend payments, the vast majority is supposed to be taxed at the corporate level at ~35%. Capitol Gains means wealth is transfer from one private party to another private party. This is very different from income earned from a job.

The issue with our taxation system is that it has become so complicated that the knowledgable and well-connected get gigantic breaks and politicans have used it to secure breaks by pandering to the lower classes with nominal credits.

Probably the whole system needs a reset.

I might point out there is a difference between "Fair" and "Moral". It is not "Fair" to charge people significantly more to live in the same country/consume the same product. It may be "Moral", but it is not "Fair".


RE: Should Be Separate
By KCjoker on 9/14/2011 7:12:40 PM , Rating: 3
When every segment pays something then we'll talk about how much the rich pay. How is representation without taxation fair? It's real easy to scream for someone else to pay higher taxes when you pay zero.


RE: Should Be Separate
By TSS on 9/14/11, Rating: 0
RE: Should Be Separate
By curelom on 9/14/2011 6:43:43 PM , Rating: 3
Yeah, that makes it right. Life isn't fair so I'm justified in stealing somebody elses money because I feel that they didn't "earn" it. What a justification for one's greed!

I actually like the idea posted elsewhere in these comments of a national sales tax. I'd be for that, if other taxes such as income tax and capital gains tax were abolished. After all, it would only be fair ;)


RE: Should Be Separate
By Black1969ta on 9/14/2011 7:39:14 PM , Rating: 2
I would agree with this,however not a flat tax across the board,meaning no food tax, most things at Walmart would have a low tax, but the higher end the higher the tax, luxury item would be taxed the highest. this would place the burden of taxes most on those who purchase frivolous items, while poor can still purchase food, and household items, contributing to the federal tax revenue.
This plan would have to eliminate state and local income taxes too, allocate taxes based on location of business (sale) taxing electronic (internet, telephone) equally funding government at all levels.


RE: Should Be Separate
By theArchMichael on 9/16/2011 3:24:51 PM , Rating: 2
You are clearly talking about "fair" as being equal parts while I think the others are talking about "fair" as being equivalent parts.

Also, I think it's important to remember that government serves as a defender of the wealthy individuals (and their assets) in this country.

I'd wager, a large population of 'have nots' living in abject poverty and difficult circumstances are more a threat to our economy and individuals who are 'haves' than the situation we are in now. Perhaps, your complaint that the tax code is "unfair" would be less true to you, if you considered it a payment to those that would mob your home and take all your possessions... if they were under more desperate circumstances.


RE: Should Be Separate
By theArchMichael on 9/16/2011 3:03:32 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It's their money. They earned it.


Perhaps we should distinguish earned (as in interest returned on investment) with earned (as in the guy who hauls out the trash and rubble at a construction site for $14/hour).


RE: Should Be Separate
By UNHchabo on 9/14/2011 4:55:02 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Let's see that the bottom 50% who pay nothing pay their fair share.


Yes, because taking the full 10% of income from those who make less than $8500 would totally put our economy back on track.

The "50% who pay nothing" is a red herring. If you want to fix our budget by raising income taxes, the top brackets are the only place it will make a difference.


RE: Should Be Separate
By curelom on 9/14/2011 5:33:23 PM , Rating: 2
My argument wasn't about balancing the budget, only on what is fair. If you taxed everybody 100%, it still wouldn't be enough to balance the budget. The spending needs to be cut/strangled/ no matter what the tax rates are or who you are taxing.


RE: Should Be Separate
By ipay on 9/14/2011 7:58:53 PM , Rating: 2
The budget is far smaller than GDP.


RE: Should Be Separate
By curelom on 9/14/2011 8:23:09 PM , Rating: 2
But not the debt


RE: Should Be Separate
By smitty3268 on 9/14/2011 11:47:46 PM , Rating: 2
But that doesn't matter. A couple of years at 100% tax rate and we'd be WAY, WAY in the black.

Well, if it didn't kill the economy, obviously.


RE: Should Be Separate
By Starcub on 9/16/2011 1:54:43 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Let's see that the bottom 50% who pay nothing pay their fair share.

You mean the 50% that don't qualify for employment? The 50% that don't figure into to the unemployment rate? Those who are too young, too old, disabled, can't find a job? You think it's fair to tax them more? You think it's fair to raise taxes on those who spend all of their income on the necessities of life because their employer is too cheap to pay them what they are worth? You think it's fair to let those who produce nothing but instead make money from money pay no taxes? You think that people who can afford to save/invest are gonna spend that money here and not in some developing country?

If so, you'll enjoy the growth in domestic crime rates and the giant sucking sound coming from abroad. You'll enjoy the resulting dearth of foreign made products available on the domestic market. You'll enjoy the trade wars that will result from a huge flat consumption based tax.


RE: Should Be Separate
By mmp121 on 9/14/2011 3:45:31 PM , Rating: 2
What, them paying the highest rate isn't 'fair' enough for you? Maybe everyone should pay 35% of their income instead of having a tiered system. Oh wait that wouldn't be fair, because 35% of $1,000,000.00 is $350,000.00.

And the poor schlep making $40.000.00 and paying $14,000.00 a year would be paying too much.

Fair is in the eye of the beholder, and if we go that route, it won't be fair to someone, what do we do then?


RE: Should Be Separate
By bah12 on 9/14/2011 4:01:43 PM , Rating: 4
That's why the only "fair" tax IMHO is a sales based tax. Punish the rich douche when he buys his 10 yachts NOT just because he makes more. The system as it stands now encourages said douche form buying 10 yachts so he can find a way to write them off.


RE: Should Be Separate
By Slaimus on 9/14/2011 6:26:56 PM , Rating: 2
That would be a regressive tax, since the effective tax rate calculation is always based on income, not consumption.

e.g.

person 1 pays $1 in consumption tax for groceries and makes $100, 1% tax rate

person 2 pays $1 in consumption tax for groceries and makes $1000, %0.1% tax rate


RE: Should Be Separate
By bah12 on 9/15/2011 12:52:08 PM , Rating: 2
And your point is. Mine is the rate makes no difference, and I can personally attest that person 2 is far more likely to spend $100 in groceries. Wealthy people spend more, as they have more to spend.

Now I wouldn't use groceries as an example as I do think there should be an exempt necessities category (much like today). Also a minimum poverty line would have exemptions too.

Of course you and I both know this is all moot, because tax is never really the issue. Spending is! If the government would shore up their wasteful spending, we would have a significantly lower tax budget.


RE: Should Be Separate
By johnsmith9875 on 9/16/2011 12:56:35 PM , Rating: 1
I've never seen a rich person suffer in a bad economy.

The problem is you mainly...

Americans refuse to believe they're poor, they have this idea that their financial status is temporary on their way to riches, so they don't even want to be associated with any laws that might help the poor. Instead they vote for things that benefit the wealthy, because after all....someday....they will be rich too!!!

Pathetic.


RE: Should Be Separate
By bigdawg1988 on 9/16/2011 1:04:15 PM , Rating: 2
Rich people don't spend nearly as much as you think they do. Sure, some do (rappers, athletes), but a lot of them sit on their money and invest it, which keeps them rich. There is no way a sales tax would work. You think Bill Gates spends a great portion of the $50B he has?

Besides, they'd probably just lease their yachts and cars (through a foreign-based GE Capital subsidiary no less) and pay no taxes on it. Rich people spend more on groceries, but there are far less of them. They'd have to eat 50 times the groceries as a poor person, and you can only eat so much caviar....


Who's getting this contract?
By MrTeal on 9/14/2011 1:49:50 PM , Rating: 2
Broadcasting at 700MHz will be great for range for this new network, but it's really going to jack of the costs. Cisco might be able to sell you and me a $100 2.4GHz WAP, but I'd bet good money that an equivalent 700Mhz version for the government couldn't possibly be made for under $1000 or so.




RE: Who's getting this contract?
By DanNeely on 9/14/2011 2:41:43 PM , Rating: 2
You mean like how Verizon can't sell a 700mhz LTE device for <$1000?


RE: Who's getting this contract?
By MrTeal on 9/14/2011 3:58:16 PM , Rating: 2
The article specifically said that this would be a WiFi system operating at 700MHz. Unless I'm mistaken, no 802.11 equipment operates in that frequency band. Hence, you couldn't build this system using COTS equipment.


RE: Who's getting this contract?
By DanNeely on 9/14/2011 5:00:05 PM , Rating: 2
I'm assuming that's just poor reporting (again); and that it's the same basic idea that they tried to sell in the last 700MHZ auction: a 4G service where emergency responders get priority over anyone else using the bandwidth, with the exception that as a dedicated govt funded network there won't be consumer devices sharing it.


RE: Who's getting this contract?
By Yames on 9/14/2011 2:50:02 PM , Rating: 2
We are not talking home user level equipment here. The current equipment probably costs that much.


OTA
By johnsmith9875 on 9/14/2011 1:06:39 PM , Rating: 3
The OTA band is small enough as it is right now with channels 7-52. Auctioning off what's left of OTA is a disservice to Americans and it restricts a broadcaster's access to viewers, making cable, satellite and digital content providers as gatekeepers who of course charge for their services.




RE: OTA
By DanNeely on 9/14/2011 2:40:53 PM , Rating: 2
It depends on where you're at. To avoid interference between stations there needs to be a large dead zone between two broadcasting on the same frequency; as a result during the DTV switch some low power stations in crowded markets found themselves squeezed out because they were last in line for available channels.


RE: OTA
By johnsmith9875 on 9/16/2011 12:52:17 PM , Rating: 1
I'm seeing an interesting renaissance in OTA broadcasting. Not long after the digital switchover, my region added about 12 new broadcast channels. Broadcast TV is quite cheap apparently so its not a huge investment to set up a station. I'm not big on all the new religious channels, but at least I did get a few movie channels and variety.

Not bad for a one-time investment in a $29 antenna. I refuse to pay for TV when it costs more than my heating bill every month.


Everyone Knows
By Reclaimer77 on 9/14/2011 1:21:20 PM , Rating: 1
This "jobs" bill is a farce. Are we supposed to believe paying people to NOT work will create jobs? Remember shovel ready not being ready yet? Here he goes again trying to push more "infrastructure" spending that will never actually be spent on it, just buying votes.

The only jobs the Government can create are federal ones. The government is completely unable to directly stimulate job creation by taking money FROM the economy and spending it elsewhere. This is basic stuff here. Remember the stimulus? Yeah, it didn't work. Failed horribly. This is just Stimulus 2.0.

And Eric Cantor, you're a disappointment and an embarrassment to your party. If you continue to pander this President and allow some deal to be made so this bill passes, you will have betrayed ALL Americans.




RE: Everyone Knows
By bah12 on 9/14/2011 2:01:18 PM , Rating: 4
Not to mention that in my state the VAST majority of road crews are illegal immigrants anyway. What a joke.


RE: Everyone Knows
By johnsmith9875 on 9/16/2011 12:54:08 PM , Rating: 1
What's ironic is the GOP criticizing Obama for job losses, then they turn around and claim the government doesn't create jobs.

Well if that's true, why are you blaming Obama? He's government!

Oh wait, its because he's a black democrat, never mind.


Everyone is proving my point
By KPOM1 on 9/14/2011 11:49:59 PM , Rating: 2
The whole debate people are having over tax policy is exactly the reason why this should be a separate bill. Regardless of your view on tax policy (and there are points to be had on both sides), I think most of us here would agree that a spectrum auction is a good thing, and if done right can promote competition. That should be debated separately from the subject of who should get tax breaks and who shouldn't. They are unrelated issues.




This will be a giveaway
By Starcub on 9/16/2011 1:26:07 AM , Rating: 2
The big boys will collude on prices and this will earn the govt. a place in the history books alongside the Louisiana purchase. One being an example of govt. doing good for the country, the other exemplary of govt. blunders.

Our corporate govt. knows how valuable the spectrum is. If they were truly interested in doing good by the public, and in ensuring that the spectrum is responsibly used and regulated, they would rent it instead.




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