Christine O’Donnell and Wild West Emergency Services
When you call 911 from your cell phone do you want your call to route to the nearest emergency services even when you are traveling? Do you want them to be able to lock the call open when you dial 911 even if an assailant tries to hang it up? Do you want emergency services to be able to find your child if you have geo location features enabled on their cell phone and they are in an accident or kidnapped?
These are some of the enhanced 911 services for cell phones and they save lives. These services take additions to 911 center infrastructure and network that go well beyond costs of what’s provided by traditional landline 911 support levies, and now 60 percent or better of 911 calls come from cell phones. A levy to support 911 center cellular infrastructure is great sense, especially if it’s you or one of your children needing that service.
Armed with these facts you can clearly see that Christine O’Donnell’s demagoguery regarding a “tax to call 911” is purely evil. This type of demonization goes hand in glove with the recent “pay to spray” wingnut support of the firefighters who stood by and watched a house burn down. Given the tea party propensity for demonizing the social contract and the most basic emergency services provided by it we had better all hope that they do not achieve serious political power. The tea party vision for America is a cloud cuckoo land idealization of the old wild west, where in reality it was every man, woman, and child for themselves, and where brutality reigned.
First, the ad is misleading when it implies that Coons strode into a tax-free oasis of 911 service and decided to impose a tax for the first time. Landlines had long been taxed to support 911 service. What Coons did was extend the tax to cell phones after their use to call 911 surged.
Second, and probably more important, the ad is misleading about what exactly Coons proposed to do. The ad says that Chris Coons “thought that a 911 call should be taxed.” We think most people would understand that to mean that every time they dialed 911, they would be hit by a tax. But that’s not the case. Instead, Coons’ proposed tax would have been a monthly levy on each user’s bill, regardless of whether someone called 911 or not. No one needed to worry that calling 911 to help an injured motorist on the highway would lead to a special fee on their next phone bill.
O’Donnell’s ad twisted the details of a proposed 911 levy to fit her image of Coons as an insatiable tax monster. Yes, he proposed a tax, but for a service on which other phones already were being taxed. And Coons most certainly did not propose taxing individual 911 calls. We rate the claim Barely True.