Clinton has long suggested the Net be a free-trade zone -- but this is the first time he has needed to fight for his policy. The fledgling e-commerce industry faces a major threat from state governors, whose national association voted Tuesday in favor of local Internet taxes. That would put cybercash transactions at risk from 30,000 separate tax jurisdictions in the U.S. alone, and likely injure -- if not trample on -- the green shoots of Net trade.
The President’s not alone on this one; he has the governors of Virginia and California (homes to AOL and Intel), not to mention common sense, in his corner. And as long as most states remain opposed, Clinton gets to do what he relishes most: Crisis management from the bully pulpit.