Morning Action: Whistleblowers Shed Much Anticipated Light on Benghazi
BENGHAZI. Yesterday’s Benghazi whistleblower testimonies by Gregory Hicks, Eric Nordstrom, and Mark Thompson, were powerful and exposed both glaring inadequacies in Washington’s response as well as “heroic efforts of the embassy and CIA teams on the ground in Libya.” Heritage’s Helle Dale explains:
Most impressive were the glaring contrasts contained in the testimony. Hicks’s on-the-ground testimony shows both the glaring inadequacy of Washington’s response and the heroic efforts of the embassy and CIA teams on the ground in Libya. Both aspects of this case should be explored.
Standing out in the testimony was the fact that no one, from Ambassador Stephens on down, in any way interpreted the attack as part of a demonstration. Hicks described receiving two phone calls on his cell phone from Stephens. When the two of them made contact, Stephens told him, “Greg, we are under attack.” This was unambiguous.
Back in Washington, it took Clinton until 2:00 a.m. to call Tripoli to ask what was going on. Meanwhile, Thompson testified that the FEST team, created explicitly for such emergencies, was cut out of the action and the planning of the response.
But most of all, one got a sense of how alone the U.S. personnel in Libya were.
IMMIGRATION. The Senate begins the markup of their immigration overhaul today (sub. req’d). However, as Heritage explains, the amnesty contained within the bill would cost U.S. taxpayers an estimated $6.3 trillion:
The $6.3 trillion number is the cost to taxpayers of supporting unlawful immigrants under amnesty, including any taxes those immigrants would pay into the system versus the amount of government benefits and services they would take out.
Focusing on amnesty first, with eventual citizenship, and not securing the border – which is what the Senate bill does and fails to do — is not the right approach. American citizens and those immigrants who have entered the country lawfully should not have to bear the burden of that much additional debt.
INTERNET SALES TAX. When the House considers the so called Marketplace Fairness Act, there will be stauncher opposition than there was in the Senate where the bill passed, however, proponents of the tax and lobbyists are still pushing for the Marketplace Fairness Act, which would harm consumers and small online businesses:
Retailers that want the Republican-led U.S. House to pass legislation letting states collect sales taxes from out-of-state sellers have some skillful lobbyists on their side: Republican governors.
They also have some staunch opponents and doubters: Republican House members from those same states.
Chief executives including Rick Snyder of Michigan, Robert Bentley of Alabama and Bob McDonnell of Virginia are leaning on their home-state lawmakers to help fill budget gaps or reduce other taxes with revenue the measure would generate.
The governors’ advocacy conflicts with a strain of anti-tax Republican philosophy that equates the legislation to a tax increase, a burden on small businesses and a permission slip for states to audit businesses with no physical presence in their borders. House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio yesterday added his voice to Republican skepticism.
Boehner’s lack of support for the measure emphasizes the difficulty it will have winning passage, especially in its current form. It would end the era of tax-free Internet shopping and put as much as $23 billion a year into state coffers.