Google Called Before Senate Antitrust Panel
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations
September 23, 2

Earlier this week, Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google Inc., faced inquisitive Senators during a hearing of the Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee. In a testament to the importance of the hearing, all eight members of the subcommittee were on hand to question Mr. Schmidt. Chairman Herb Kohl (D-WI) set the tone in his opening statement:

…Google has grown ever more dominant and powerful, and it appears its mission has changed.  For the last five years or so, Google has been on an acquisition binge….  This has transformed Google from a mere search engine into a major Internet conglomerate. And these acquisitions raise a very fundamental question -- is it possible for Google to be both an unbiased search engine and at the same time own a vast portfolio of web-based products and services? Does Google's transformation create an inherent conflict of interest which threatens to stifle competition?

Several Senators probed to discern whether or not Google had established such dominance that it was harming marketplace competition. While leaving the determination of a monopoly to the discretion of such government leaders, NRB President & CEO Dr. Frank Wright raised another relevant point earlier this week. “…[L]egitimate questions can and must be asked about whether or not Google’s policies constrain or hinder free speech,” said Dr. Wright.

Indeed, this is the focus of NRB’s newly launched John Milton Project for Religious Free Speech. Its first report cites Google and several other new media platforms for encroachment on First Amendment free speech and free religious expression protections. NRB hopes these platforms will heed these warning signs and self-correct.

Washington Whispers
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Charitable Deduction Limited in White House Jobs Bill
Last week NRB highlighted the fact that the American Jobs Act, proposed by President Obama to a Joint Session of Congress earlier this month, would authorize new spectrum license user fees. Another provision of particular note for NRB members is the bill’s attempt to reduce the value of tax deductions for high-income Americans. Those affected by this change include individuals with an adjusted gross income over $200,000, and married couples jointly filing an income over $250,000. This proposal could be problematic for ministries that receive tax-deductible donations from major donors.
  • Click here to view President Obama’s Proposed American Jobs Act

Weighing-in on the Palestinian Statehood Bid

For On Wednesday, President Obama addressed the United Nations General Assembly and opposed U.N. acceptance of Palestine as an independent state without negotiations with Israel. Later that day, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a provision authored by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), which had the potential to cut hundreds of millions of dollars in economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority if it obtains such U.N. recognition.  House Appropriators, led by Representative Kay Granger (R-TX), took a similar step earlier this summer. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has signaled his determination to present an application for Palestine to join the United Nations after he addresses the United Nations General Assembly today.

The Inside Story: Key Government Issues for Christian Communicators
Washington Whispers
>> Charitable Deduction Limited in White House Jobs Bill
>> Weighing-in on the Palestinian Statehood Bid
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