Stop Barking, Senator Ensign

It’s so cool that Sen. John Ensign of Nevada is a veterinarian. I love dogs and I think veterinarians are wonderful people. But maybe all the time spent with animals makes Ensign need a reality check.

See, you can say anything to a dog and they’ll just wag their tails and take your word as gospel. Not so with people — people tend to want you to tell the truth or, at a minimum, not to distort truth.

Ensign claimed that S. 1504, eliminating local franchising for video services, would cause cable companies to slash their rates in the face of this new competition. He cited Keller, Texas as the perfect example of this, saying Charter cut its rates 50% when Verizon began offering its video service a few months ago.

Let’s take a moment to parse these assertions.

First, Verizon launched video service one month ago, not a few months ago. Verizon obtained a franchise from Keller several months ago, long before Texas decided to wipe out local franchising for the Bell Boys.

Second, Charter did not cut its rates 50% in response to Verizon. Long before Verizon jumped into the fray, it put together this promo called “Charter’s Biggest Package.” It includes 89 channel expanded basic, plus one tier and two premium channels along with Charter’s lower-speed Internet for $49.99. The normal price for these bundled services would be $98.98. Makes me want to move to Keller.

But didn’t Charter do this out of fear of the big bad Verizon?

“We have significant competition from [the] dish. It’s not the first time a competitor has entered the market,” says Kevin Allen of Charter.

These facts did not prevent Ensign citing Keller anecdotally in a speech to the Heritage Foundation: “I think this would happen all across the United States because — guess what — competition leads to better services at lower prices. There is no question that if my bill were enacted, that’s exactly what we would see.”

Ensign admits that his bill won’t be passed this year. Since its introduction last July it’s only picked up eight cosponsors (including Sen. John McCain [R-Ariz], who cosponsored its introduction in the first place). He shouldn’t sweat it, though, because his bill has exactly the same number of cosponsors that S.1200 has.

S. 1200 is a bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to reduce the depreciation recovery period for certain roof systems. Then again, the roofing lobby is not nearly as powerful as the telecommunications lobby.

I don’t know that anytime soon S. 1504 will see 71 co-sponsors, like S. 1047. S. 1047 will require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in commemoration of each of the nation’s past presidents and their spouses. Do you think they’ll even include Warren G. Harding’s wife who it is rumored poisoned him with arsenic?!

It could be that Ensign believes his own hype. It is my speculation that he is just howling at the moon and chasing his own tail. The Bell Boys have him fetching the ball and jumping through hoops. They probably tossed him a bone. It’s quite clear that he is covered with fleas. But it is sad to see him frothing at the mouth.

I could go on and on about his incessant barking, but more than anything else I really do hope somebody puts a leash on him.