The Obama administration hopes to raise $27.8 billion over the next decade from auctions of unused broadcast channels. This spectrum would be used then to extend and enlarge wireless networks, to expand wireless connections to rural areas and to pay for an emergency public safety network.
The pending merger of AT&T and T-Mobile, however, could pitch a wrench into these plans, the Washington Post reports. Simply, if the two giant carriers combine, there will be a significant decline in the need for spectrum — and that could reduce the price paid for unused broadcast space.
Today the White House will present a letter from 100 economist who say the auctions are the best way to create new mobile phone networks and would “increase social welfare.”
• New USDA regs would require meat processors to wait until laboratory tests show their products are free from contamination before they can be shipped.
One in six Americans are sickened by food-borne illness each year, a number Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack said were “unacceptable.” Currently, meat and egg products are tested, but companies aren’t obliged to wait for test results. Most companies do “test and hold,” but now that practice could be made mandatory.
• DTN’s Chris Clayton reports that ag programs would be cut $3 billion a year over the next decade under the proposal made Tuesday by House Budget Chair Paul Ryan. Clayton reports:
The House budget plan appears to challenge farmers to take some cuts in direct payments and crop insurance.
In his plan, “The Path to Prosperity,” Ryan stated that farmers appear to be doing well and could manage if Congress were to “reduce the fixed payments that go to farmers irrespective of price levels.” Further, agriculture needs to “reform the open-ended nature of the government’s support for crop insurance.”
These reforms will save taxpayers nearly $30 billion over the next decade, he said.
• The Charleston Gazette has complete coverage of the services held on the anniversary of the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster that killed 29 coal miners. (See the photo of firefighters at the First Christian Church in Beckley, West Virginia.)
The AP reports that in the year since the disaster, there has been a noticeable absence of reform. Usually, a disaster of this magnitude shocks lawmakers into tightening mine safety laws. Not this time, however.
Ken Ward Jr. reports that there is a renewed push for mine safety reform. “Is Congress just going to sit here and simply wait for the next generation, the next tragedy, the next loss of life?” said Miller, a California Democrat and ranking minority member of the House Committee on Labor and the Workforce. “Are we going to let special interests continue to paralyze this institution?”
• A record number of people have applied for food assistance on Colorado’s Western Slope.