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TWIW: From Gun Control to Immigration and Internet Sales Tax


With the threat of many conservative defections, will Boehner and Cantor violate the Hastert rule for the 5th time this year, and pass the bill with minority Republican/majority Democrat support?

This contribution is part of our weekly This Week In Washington series

There is no rest for the wary. After defeating the threat to the Second Amendment last week, we are confronted with multiple battles on all fronts.  An overwhelming majority of the Senate is poised to pass an online internet sales tax that violates federalism and the principle of taxation without regulation. The Republican-House is prepared to expand an Obamacare program. Most importantly, the Senate is getting ready to jam us with the worst immigration bill ever written, one which reflects many of the same problems that we faced when confronting Obamacare.

Immigration – Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a marathon hearing with 23 guests to discuss the Gang of 8 immigration bill introduced last week (S. 744).  Republican members of the committee (except for the gang members) did not see this complex 844 page bill until last Wednesday, yet Democrat are trying to jam them with immediate hearings on a bill they haven’t had time to digest yet.

The Gang bill will essentially suspend deportations for 10 years, as it requires DHS to allow everyone to come forward and apply for legal status.  That legal status will be granted after the DHS Secretary submits a “strategy” to Congress within 6 months to secure the border.  At that point, those eligible for legal status will get social security numbers.  After 10 years they will get green cards.  There is nothing in this bill that guarantees the construction of a double layer fence, and it is clear that the visa exit-entry system and E-verify are not pre-conditions to any legalization, even for green cards.  Additionally, this bill calls for hundreds of thousands of new guest workers, raises visa caps in all categories, creates a new bureau to set wages and labor flow, establishes a new ACORN-style community organizing foundation to agitate for rights for the amnesties illegals, provides immigration lawyers with endless fodder to sue on behalf of their clients, issues 400 waivers, exemptions, and exceptions to DHS to void out enforcement and eligibility limitations, and liberalizes refugee policy.

Perhaps most telling of all, this bill invites back numerous illegals that were already deported and affords them the opportunity to apply for legalization. That tells you that this is not viewed as a necessary evil on the part of proponents; it’s an ideal. Furthermore, this bill grants anyone over the age of 16 (with no age cap) the opportunity to obtain full citizenship in 5 years, even without requiring college degrees, like most previous iterations of the DREAM Act. It also allows those illegals who are agriculture workers to get green cards within 5 years. The last two categories are the most likely to be a public charge, as they are low-wage earners and will be eligible for all the programs in 5 years.

We have full coverage of the bill over at The Madison Project. For a summary of just a small percentage of conservative concerns with this bill, you can look at my analysis here.

Internet Sales Tax – Why would Republicans want to facilitate sales taxes on internet purchases?  We’ll find out this week. Harry Reid plans to bring the so-called Market Fairness Act (S.743) to the floor late today and work on it throughout the rest of the week. The bill would essentially allow states to join together to force online retailers to collect sales taxes on behalf of all 50 states based on the location of the shipping address. If you think Republicans in the Senate would never support it, think again.  This bill already passed the Senate last month by 75-24, with the support of 26 Republicans.  At the time, it was a non-binding amendment to the annual budget resolution.  This time it’s for real.  Although the bill never went through regular order and a markup in the Finance Committee, Harry Reid will push for a cloture vote later today to proceed with debate.

Conservative concerns:

  •  Taxation without representation: The idea that states could collect sales taxes from companies in other states is an anathema to the founding ideals of our country.
  •  Hurting federalism and low-tax states: While brick and mortar stores are forced to collect taxes from everyone, they are only subject to the tax of their home state.  So if they are located in a state with no sales tax or a low tax they collect the lower tax, even if the customer is from a high tax state.  Under the MFA, online vendors in a state like New Hampshire would still have to collect the high rate of taxes of customers from California.  So red-state companies will have to serve as tax collector for high-taxed blue states, thereby obviating the benefit of being in a red state and blurring the effectiveness of laboratories of democracy.
  •  Onerous Burden:  This bill would encumber online businesses with the technicalities of establishing a tax collection system that would satisfy nearly 10,000 unique tax jurisdictions in this country?  That is a recipe for killing jobs and raising the cost of goods.  It’s for good reason that in 1992 the Supreme Court referred to such a scheme as a “burden” and violation of due process.
  •  National Sales Tax:  Collection, enforcement, and reciprocity of this tax would be so complicated that it would engender yet another fix in the endless cycle of government incompetence. The only way to effectively collect it would be with a uniform national sales tax. There is no question that the MFA would be the easiest way for liberals to leverage their much sought-after national sales tax – an entirely new revenue stream.
  • This is a tax increase: More broadly, why would we ever push for new revenue and a new stream of taxation that will totally disrupt e-commerce?  Let’s find ways to lower the tax burden on brick and mortar stores instead of raising them on online vendors.

The internet is the most successful invention known to man. Why?  Because it is the freest venue of information dissemination in the world, unencumbered by government. We need to keep it that way. The bill is being heavily pushed by Walmart and Amazon, which stand to benefit from such a cumbersome regulatory tax system that disproportionately hurts small online retailers.  It is also being pushed by state and local governments who are hungry for the new revenue to grow government, but lack the fortitude to ask for the revenue through new direct taxes or simply enforce collection of use taxes that already exist in most states.

Please call the 26 Republicans who voted for this tax increase several weeks ago, and let them know that you will not tolerate another tax increase on top of the one already passed earlier this year. This bill will likely pass the Senate; we must begin forming a firewall against it in the House.

Obamacare Expansion – Believe it or not, Republicans plan to bring a bill to the House floor this week that will expand an Obamacare program that Obama has actually begun to wind down.  On Wednesday, the House will consider the Helping Sick Americans Now Act, H.R. 1549, which will pump $4 billion into Obamacare’s federally managed and manipulated high-risk pool for those with pre-existing conditions – Pre-Existing Conditions Insurance Plan (PCIP).

Conservative concerns:

  • At a time when we are trying to starve the Obamacare beast, why are we expanding it and giving moral cover to the premise of the law?  It is these very market-distorting programs that make the cost of health insurance unaffordable for everyone – not just those with pre-existing conditions.
  • This bill would eliminate the requirement that enrollees be uninsured for 6 months prior to applying for the program.  So they can wait until they get sick and immediately get insurance.  This is like applying for fire insurance after your house burns down.  The House should instead offer numerous free market ideas that will directly address the barriers to coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, with the most limited impact on the broader market.  We should eliminate the ridiculous “community rating” rules that make insurers offer limited services and options for the same price irrespective of condition.  We should have options targeted for chronically-ill people that don’t include mandated AIDS and fertility coverage, yet provides for their needs with a higher premium.


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