Morning Action: Internet Sales Tax Is Just a Bad Idea

IST.  Heritage explains that though the Senate rushed the internet sales tax bill through, the House will have more time to deliberate about this harmful bill:

For someone running—or thinking about starting—a small online business, trying to deal with tax codes for all of the states that charge sales tax is a huge deterrent.

Yet the Senate rushed this bill through. Americans for Tax Reform’s Grover Norquist said the rush itself was one of the reasons the Internet sales tax made it this far.

“It’s only passing the Senate because they took it out of regular order,” he said. “Why did they want to rush it through without amendments? Why did they do that? Because if people looked at it too long, it wouldn’t pass easily.”

The House is going to consider the bill through the normal committee channels, giving Members more time to review it and ask questions.

This also allows time for more facts to enter the debate and misconceptions to be exposed. 

GUNS.  Opinions about how to approach the issue of guns vary widely in the House, but there seems to be a consensus forming that some action should be taken.

The collapse of gun control in the Senate last month led many on and off Capitol Hill to believe the issue would not be revived in this Congress.

But House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) told The Hill on Friday that he’s had “a lot of discussions” with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on guns. Goodlatte suggested the Speaker is more involved in the behind-the-scenes wrangling of how to move a gun bill than the Ohio Republican has let on in public.

“We are trying to improve the system to keep people who are barred under the law from owning firearms, from getting access to them. We don’t think the things that were proposed in the Senate do that. So we have not backed away from trying to figure out how to improve that, but we’ve made no decisions yet about what to do,” Goodlatte explained.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) believes the House will deal with guns this year as well. But the top-ranking Democrat favors the background check bill crafted by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). A House companion bill authored by Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) has 159 co-sponsors.

Conservatives always maintain that any legislation Congress passes should in no way erode our Second Amendment rights.  That is what the Schumer-Toomey-Manchin bill in the Senate would have done had it passed.

Rank-and-file conservatives in the House have said any gun bill that hits the floor must have the support of the majority of GOP Conference.

But it remains to be seen whether the House will tackle a significant gun bill, especially now that gun-control supporters suffered such a stinging defeat last month.

OBAMACARE.   Proponents of Obamacare are concerned about huge drug cost disparities for cancer patients.  They say that the difficulty with the health overhaul is reconciling quality care with low premiums.  Unfortunately, Obamacare has resulted in and will continue to produce the opposite: low quality care and higher costs.

To try to keep premiums low, some states are allowing insurers to charge patients a hefty share of the cost for expensive medications used to treat cancer, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and other life-altering chronic diseases.

Although the money for covering uninsured Americans is coming from Washington, the heath care law gives states broad leeway to tailor benefits, and the local approach can also allow disparities to emerge.

A spokesman for Covered California said state officials are trying to balance between two conflicting priorities: comprehensive coverage and affordable premiums.

Insurers are forecasting double-digit premium increases for individual policies, as people with health problems flock to buy coverage previously denied them. The Obama administration says the industry warnings are overblown, and that for many consumers, premium increases will be offset by tax credits to help buy insurance. And officials say it’s important to realize that the law sets overall limits on patients’ liability, even if those seem high to some people. Still, a full picture of costs and benefits isn’t likely to come into focus until the fall.

SEQUESTER.  The sequester was certainly neither a perfect nor a sufficient mechanism for cutting out-of-control government spending, but it was a small step in the right direction in terms of reining in spending.  Now, Congress is continuing its efforts to undo sequester cuts, especially where special interests are involved:

The shortlist for the next round of possible sequester saves includes cancer patients, medical researchers, hungry seniors, poor people and pre-schoolers.

There are already more than a dozen pieces of stand-alone legislation introduced to address agencies, programs and accounts hit by sequestration. Whether any one proposal has a shot at becoming law requires a confluence of events. It needs bipartisan support and at least some semblance of a spending offset to cover the costs. Headlines showing Americans across the country feeling pain helps, too.

It should come as no surprise that the sequester debate has gotten to this point, with lawmakers scrambling to carve out special interest exemptions and undo budget cuts they created.

BENGHAZI.  It is possible the more whistleblowers will step forward with information about the attacks on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya, which could shed more light on the administration’s subsequent disinformation campaign:

“I do think we’re going to see more whistle blowers. I certainly know my committee has been contacted,” Representative Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday”.

Last week, Republican charges that White House covered up details of the September 11, 2012 attack gathered more steam after former U.S. diplomat Greg Hicks told lawmakers he believed more could have been done to stop the assault by suspected Islamist militants.

Hicks, the second in command at the U.S. Embassy in Libya at the time, expressed his frustration in an emotionally charged congressional hearing that a U.S. military jet and special forces were not sent to help in Benghazi.

WATER BILL. The Senate water bill is on track for passage by midweek (sub. req’d).  One contested issue is whether the legislation should freeze flood insurance rates for five years.  Some Senate Democrats want to ensure that flood insurance premiums do not increase:

With the issue of the amendment’s cost now resolved, the water bill appears to be back on track for passage by midweek, although senators still have until 4 p.m. on May 13 to file amendments.

The bill would authorize Army Corps of Engineers projects, including harbor dredging and protecting waterways from storm damage. It also would create a national levee safety program and a financing pilot program to provide loans and loan guarantees for flood control, water supply and wastewater projects.

Under a compromise that senators reached last week, funding for dredging and other port improvements would increase by $100 million annually for six years. After that, all the revenue raised annually through a user fee levied on domestic and imported shipping would be dedicated to the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund. That revenue now totals about $1.6 billion a year.

Please Share Your Thoughts