House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Billy Tauzin (R-La.) unloaded
Thursday on fellow Republican Kevin Martin, calling the Federal Communications
Commission member a "renegade" who staged a "palace coup" in order to scuttle a
key phone-industry reform pushed hard by FCC chairman Michael Powell.
Martin paired with two Democrats to kill Powell's plan, allowing the Bells to
charge higher wholesale network-access rates almost immediately.
Tauzin supported Powell, claiming that past policies under Democratic
chairmen Reed Hundt and William Kennard plunged the telecommunications industry
into a deep recession costing 500,000 jobs and $1 trillion in market value.
Following the FCC vote, Tauzin issued a seething statement that denounced
Martin's alliance with agency Democrats Michael Copps and Jonathan
"A palace coup led by . Martin has breathed new life into the dying era of
big government control over U.S. telecommunications policy," Tauzin said.
Tauzin -- a Baby Bell ally who supported Powell for FCC chairman in 2001 --
claimed that Martin's efforts were injurious to President Bush's
"Ironically, as President Bush campaigned around the country on behalf of a
promising new program to create more jobs and more opportunities, a renegade
Republican at the FCC assured the continuation of a tired old program that will
only create more layoffs and more misery for working families in the future,"
Powell and Martin have been fighting for more than one year, and the dispute,
some at the FCC said, has left their relationship in tatters, which has
implications for upcoming agenda items: cable ownership, cable-broadband
regulation and broadcast-ownership policies.
However, Martin and Powell joined forces with fellow GOP FCC member Kathleen
Abernathy in voting to substantially deregulate the Baby Bells' broadband
facilities. Martin called that an important policy shift and one that would
"I don't think what the commission did today was the status quo. The
commission made dramatic steps on providing regulatory relief on broadband,"
Martin told reporters. "We deregulated broadband [and] provided new wholesale
rates for any new investment going forward."
Tauzin said he would begin work on legislation "designed to promote real -- not
phony -- competition."