It's a political hot potato that no one's been willing to grab onto, but a six-month-old proposal from FCC Chairman Kevin Martin to cap the largest part of the federal Universal Service Fund-which hit $7.2 billion in 2007--may finally be settled. Martin, concerned about the growth of the fund-it stood at $5.2 billion in 2002--had proposed a cap, but other commissioners saw it as a possible tool to force additional changes in the oft-criticized agency.
The agency is expected to announce plans to cap the fund at its March 2008 level-at least temporarily-in the next few days, the Wall Street Journal reports. A cap would hold the USF fee at-or at least close to-its current level on customers' bills. "This thing is spiking out of control and we need to move on," said Robert McDowell, a Republican FCC commissioner who voted to approve the plan Monday. "We need to be fiscally responsible here."
- read the Wall Street Journal story
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