Tag Archives: Senate

What the Senate Could Learn from Illinois about Internet Sales Taxes

by Whitney Pitcher

internet sales tax

The Senate  is poised to vote on the Orwellian-sounding “Marketplace Fairness Act” next week. This bill would institute an “internet sales tax” and could be seen as a gateway to a national sales tax. Also, in many ways it would allow federal government to expand individual states’ powers over businesses outside of a state. As the Heritage Foundation explains:

They seek enactment of [the Marketplace Fairness Act] so that states can prefer in-state businesses over out-of-state businesses in the kind of anti-competitive economic discrimination the U.S. Constitution was in part adopted to prevent. As the U.S. Supreme Court has stated, “[p]reservation of local industry by protecting it from the rigors of interstate competition is the hallmark of the economic protectionism that the Commerce Clause prohibits.”

This bill would require that states without a state sales tax to collect sales taxes on internet purchase on behalf of states that have sales taxes. This additional regulation is of great expense to smaller businesses. When the bill was introduced in the previous session of Congress, then Senator Jim DeMint cautioned against it:

The burden on Internet entrepreneurs could be staggering. There are already nearly 10,000 state, local and municipal tax jurisdictions to navigate nationwide.

Just complying with a single state’s tax laws costs small businesses disproportionately more than larger firms that can afford accounting and technology teams to help them work through these arcane laws. A 2006 PricewaterhouseCoopers study found that tax-compliance costs for small businesses (those having $1 million to $10 million in annual sales) are nearly 2.5 times greater than those of larger firms. For businesses under $1 million in sales, those costs explode to 16 cents on every dollar of revenue.

And woe to online sellers if they have a dispute with one of the many states that will be unleashed to tax them. A small business owner in South Carolina could face simultaneous audits from California, New Jersey and Hawaii, with no political recourse.

Proponents of the bill point to exemptions for businesses with less than a million dollars in annual sales, but as Senator DeMint referenced, the impact on small businesses making $1 to $10 million annually is more onerous than for bigger businesses. Even Democratic Senators, like Oregon’s Ron Wyden, have seen the potential for such taxation to not only make government bigger, but also to drive businesses out of the country:

 “What concerns me, especially after the legal analysis I received from the Congressional Research Service, is I think the way this bill is going to work, people are going to end up calling it the shop Canada bill or maybe the shop Mexico bill or, what is even more ominous, the shop China bill.”

The Senate needs to look no further than the home state of one of bill’s co-sponsors, Dick Durbin. In 2011, Illinois passed a similar law called the Main Street Fairness Act. What did the bill do? It drove businesses out of Illinois and generated far less state revenue (tax dollars) than expected, as an Illinois Policy Institute op-ed in the Chicago Tribune early this month notes: 

 After the law was enacted, businesses fled. Overstock.com and Amazon.com ended their relationships with Illinois-based marketing affiliates. Chicago-based CouponCabin moved to Indiana. And FatWallet.com, which had been headquartered near Rockford for three years, skipped the border to Wisconsin.

“The so-called Amazon tax was misguided,” said Brent Shelton, a spokesman for FatWallet.com. “(It) did little to increase the competitiveness of the local merchants it was purportedly designed to protect. It’s primary result was to cause businesses like ours to leave the state.” Each of these companies took with them people, jobs and money.

And the $150 million?

The actual money generated by the law was much less.

According to the Illinois Department of Revenue, the law generated just $3.8 million between July 2011 and January 2012. The state was on pace to net $6.4 million from the tax by the end of the fiscal year. This law, billed by one of Illinois’ top political leaders as a step toward solving Illinois’ economic and fiscal problems, failed to achieve even 5 percent of its intended target.

Just as Senator Wyden noted, the “Marketplace Fairness Act” could drive businesses overseas. Illinois has shown that a similar state law has driven businesses across state borders. What’s to say that a federal law wouldn’t do the same? Also, as with many forms of taxation, revenues rarely reach anticipated amounts. Why should states collect taxes on behalf of other states? What about potential constitutional violations,which the Heritage Foundation warns against and the state of Illinois experienced? Those are all questions we should ask the 75 Senators who voted in favor of a non-binding resolution for internet sales taxation last month. Let’s hope they’ll learn a lesson from the microcosm of America’s financial problems–Illinois–and vote “no” on the actual bill.

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Dan Bongino: Principles Matter

by Whitney Pitcher

On Thursday, Governor Palin encouraged supporters to donate to Maryland Senatorial candidate Dan Bongino, noting that he could be the Senate candidate to help put Republicans over the top in the Senate. Bongino has the support of Governor Palin and Senator DeMint, the two leaders who are putting forth the strongest effort to ensure that Republicans regain a majority in the Senate. Following that tweet from Governor Palin, Bongino tweeted a thank you:

Principles matter.

This is something that Bongino understands very well. When Governor Palin endorsed Bongino, she noted, “Dan is not a politician, but he’s spent his career protecting them”. Bongino was a Secret Service agent serving under three presidents, while his opponent has been in political office since before Bongino was born. He touts his lack of political experience as a “badge of honor” and is glad he hasn’t “made  any deals” like a politician. He got into the race in 2011 with the backing of businessman and 2010 Maryland  gubernatorial candidate, Brian Murphy (whom Governor Palin endorsed in the 2010 primary).

Bongino puts principles over party, and notes, “I’m a conservative first, and a Republican as a method to get on a ballot”. He understands that crony capitalism is a major issue through all aspects of our government. When the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare, Bognino released a statement noting not only the massive bureaucracy in Obamacare, but also its crony capitalism. This is something he also notes in  his stance on other key issues–such as energy policy and tax reform. He does not support energy subsidies, and he is in favor of simplifying the tax code because it’s “been riddled with ‘crony capitalist’ deductions for favored industries” and supports removing loopholes.

Principles matter, and Bongino realizes that. He won the GOP primary because of those principles, not because he kowtowed to the Republican establishment. One conservative Maryland blogger called Bongino a “defibrillator for a party in cardiac arrest”:

It wasn’t too long ago that Delegate Pat McDonough–who was also running for the Senate nomination,then wasn’t running, then was running again, then wasn’t running again but was still handing out campaign literature saying he was–accused Bongino’s campaign of being a “novelty act.”

“He’s done absolutely nothing for the Republican Party or for his community,” McDonough said. “You have these unknown people who come out of the woodwork who want to run for high office. It’s like joining the Catholic religion and wanting to be pope.”

This sort of petty narcissism seems endemic to the Republican Party nationally but seems particularly virulent in Maryland. Given that the so called “Free State” is being run over rough-shod by a Democrat Party monopoly, I’m not sure what these party insiders claim to have done for the party themselves. Dan Bongino has made it exciting to be a Republican in the state of Maryland, which is far more than some of his detractors have done. Dan is like a defibrillator for a state party in cardiac arrest.

He aims to win this Senate seat in deep blue Maryland because principles matters. Please take check out his latest web ad below, and visit his website here.

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Why Senate Races Are the Most Important Races of 2012

by Whitney Pitcher

In an election year when there is a presidential election in addition to Congressional and statewide races, the presidential election often takes center stage. In some respects, this is understandable. The president comprises the head of one of the three branches of our constitutional republic.However, the focus on the presidency is indicative of a government whose balance of power has gotten out of whack. For starters, we have crept away from our Constitutional foundation where the federal government’s power is limited, and the states’ power is appropriate. Even in our federal government, the scales of power have been tipped. Congress has willingly abdicated its legislative powers to unelected executive branch agencies who legislate under the guise of regulation. Couple the extensive powers of agencies and departments like the EPA, Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security with the increasing frequency of executive orders in the last 100+ years, it is clear that the branches of government have been twisted. Additionally, with each Supreme Court decision, judicial precedence becomes the new guiding force rather than the true precedence–the Constitution.

One of the reasons our Founders created this three branch system of government was to provide a check and balance, not only to provide a check to each branch’s adherence to the Constitution or ideology, but also to each branch’s power. The election later this year has the potential to re-elect an extremely progressive president or elect an unprincipled “Republican”. This election year also will indicate whether we maintain a GOP House or flip it, Somewhat lost in the shuffle is that this election year also determines whether or not Republicans regain control of the Senate or at least pick up some seats. Regardless of who is elected President, there are several reasons why the Senate is especially crucial, as the Constitution has given Senators different powers or responsibilities than their counterparts in the House.

One of the responsibilities that the Senate specifically has is the ratification of treaties. In late 2010, we saw a Democratic majority Senate (with a good deal of moderate Republicans joining in) ratify the START treaty . This treaty with Russia was rushed through by America, only to have the Russians sit on the treaty before ratifying it themselves. With President Obama recently noting to Russian President Medvedev that he would have “more flexibility after the election”, this would prove to be a motivator for conservatives if Obama were to be re-elected. A strong conservative Senate would be crucial in preventing the President from entering into more treaties that may not be in America’s best interest, nor in the interest of an ally like Poland. Between President Obama scrapping a missile defense program in Poland on the 70th anniversary of Soviet invasion of Poland and his gaffes in discussing “flexibility” with the Russian President and in referring to Nazi death camps as Polish death camps, it would be important to have a Senate who would stand with America’s allies and not aim to weaken our country. In the same vein, discussion has opened up again recently over the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) in the Senate. If this treaty were to be ratified, it would require that America pay royalties ,which would be distributed to poor underdeveloped countries, on energy development done in certain arctic regions. This would abdicate American sovereignty by implementing a global redistribution of wealth from energy production on what are really American seas. This is in addition to the limits on sea travel and naval activity. If this is ultimately not voted upon during this session, a conservative Senate would be a big deterrent in its ratification regardless of whether Obama’s Secretary of State were to push for the treaty again or if a Romney administration were to advocate for its approval.

Another  important responsibility given to the Senate is the approval of judicial and cabinet appointments. A strong conservative Senate would help keep President Obama in check when he attempts to appoint a new Secretary of State, if he is re-elected. Current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, although quite liberal, was palatable enough to be confirmed by the Senate in 2009. However, she has opted not to serve in Obama’s second term if he is re-elected. A conservative Senate would ideally help ensure that President Obama would appoint a more palatable liberal, rather than one who is a radical. We saw earlier in his term when President Obama attempted to appoint radical Donald Berwick to head Medicare, the blowback from Republicans and conservatives was strong enough to prompt President Obama to appoint Berwick during a Senate recess. Berwick later resigned from his post.  This check and balance would be even more pronounced if the Senate were to not only become more Republican, but more conservative as well. Additionally and probably most importantly, a strong conservative is needed when a new Supreme Court nominee is appointed. There is the potential for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg to retire. Would a President Obama appoint another justice to perpetuate judicial activism for even longer in that seat? Additionally, there is potential that if a Republican were to win, Justices Roberts and Scalia would retire in order for more justices to be appointed by a Republican president. For the most part, with the blocked appointment of Robert Bork being a notable exception, the Senate confirms the President’s nominees to the bench. However, would Senate confirmation hearings of Obama’s appointees be more rigorous with a conservative Senate, or would they be bold enough to block a radical appointee? On the flip side, would a conservative Senate hold a Romney administration accountable in appointing a true originalist judges to the bench, even in spite of his poor record of judicial appointments as governor? Romney often blames Democratic control in Massachusetts as a source of his failings. Would a conservative Senate hold him accountable to make wise decisions? Not only in potential judicial appointees, but also in his own cabinet, as again, he did a poor job with some other appointees as governor and even to date as the presumed GOP nominee.It is important that the Senate provides a conservative and constitutional check to whomever is elected President in November.

Suffice it to say, the 33 Senate seats up for grabs this November are extremely important, not only in working with their bicameral buddies in the House, but also in providing a much needed check to whomever occupies the White House and whomever may be placed on the judicial bench. In order to slowly but surely try to bring our nation back to its true Constitutional foundation, we must ensure that principled conservatives are elected in 2012. Most conservatives are disenchanted by our presidential prospects, but we have every reason to be inspired by the foundational principles found in our Constitution. We must remember, though, as the father of our Constitution, James Madison, once noted, “if men were angels, no government would be necessary”. Men are not angels, and yet another blessing of our republic is that we get to elect our leaders from amongst our fallible selves. It is inherent in our human nature that our leaders will be flawed.Therefore, it is important for us to elect from among the flawed human candidates out there those who have the best grasp of our Constitution so that they may exercise those powers and responsibilities that they swear an oath to uphold to the best of their abilities. Let’s remind our leaders that the Constitution still begins with “We the People”, and let’s ensure we have a Senate that lives that message out in their leadership.

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Breaking: Bob Dole Endorses Christine O’Donnell

By Gary P Jackson

This is exactly what Christine O’Donnell needed. After acting like spoiled children since Christine O’Donnell took out far left radical “Republican” Mike Castle in the Delaware primary, the Republican elites needed to be taken to the woodshed.

Charles Krauthammer, and Karl Rove, who has some serious explaining to do, really jumped the shark after Christine won a crushing victory against Mike Castle. These elitist fools seemed genuinely disturbed that a regular person was about to become a United States Senator, then set about trashing her for days. Then they had the audacity to complain her poll numbers hadn’t received a large victory bounce.

That’s kinda expected when the “smart” people in your own party are trashing you. Idiots.

Of course, Christine isn’t the first to beat an establishment hack for the Republican nomination this year, Nikki Haley, Dr Rand Paul and Sharron Angle were savaged by the “good old boys” after they won too. In Nikki Haley’s case, it was a full court press during the primary as well.

That’s what makes this endorsement so special. Bob Dole, a war hero and elder statesman in the party, by endorsing Christine, is telling his fellow Republicans to grow up and support our candidate and stop acting like spoiled brats.

Dole, who is in Walter Reed Hospital, awaiting knee surgery, had this to say:

Christine O’Donnell message resonated with the voters, and to the surprise of many she defeated Congressman Mike Castle, who many of us thought would win. The primary is over and in my opinion it is time for voters to join hands and support Christine O’Donnell. The Delaware seat is important and the winner in November could well determine whether Republicans or Democrats control the Senate.

I find many of the attacks on O’Donnell to be personal and lacking in balance and fairness. If her campaign wishes I am willing to assist in a limited way since I am still a patient at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. I will have surgery Monday, September 27.

An aide said Dole also contributed the maximum donation amount allowed by law to Christine’s campaign.

Bob Dole has always been a class act. A principled politician who got things done. This is a very generous gesture from one of our true statesmen.

We wish the Senator well on his surgery Monday and pray for a speedy recovery.

Meanwhile, Mike Castle is looking to join Lisa Murkowski as one of the newest members of the “Sore Losers Club” that also includes DeDe Scozzafava, Arlen Specter, and Charlie Crist, to name just a few. Jim Geraghty is reporting that chances are 50/50 that Castle will enter the race as a write in candidate.

Honestly, in my opinion, this would be about as perfect as it could get. For one thing, since Castle is such a far left guy, and very well known to the people of Delaware, he’s certain to hurt Harry Reid’s “pet bearded Marxist” Chris Coons, more than Christine O’Donnell.

This would also continue to make the case that we truly do need to rid the party of this sort.

Castle was solidly rejected by the Republican voters in the primary. Wasn’t really close. It would be hard to see a scenario where all but the most ardent Castle supporters, i.e. close friends and family, would vote for the guy, especially with the stakes so high. After all, the ONLY justification to vote for Castle any of our precious, sainted “moderate” friends (including Rove and Krauthammer) could come up with was making that seat red!

They literally could make no other case for giving the far left George Soros approved Castle the nod, except they thought he could beat Coons. Never mind the polls showed Christine O’Donnell, not Castle beating Coons, until the GOP elites turned on the juice trying to help Castle beat Christine.

The likely scenario will mirror Alaska, where the polls have shifted dramatically now that Daddy’s Girl is mounting a write-in campaign. The latest Rasmussen polling shows Joe Miller cruising to a victory with 42% of the vote in a tree way race. Murkowski and the democrat, Scott McAdams, basically split the rest of the vote with Daddy’s Girl getting 27% of the vote and McAdams getting 25%.

The dynamics in Delaware are even more in favor of Christine O’Donnell should Castle make one last pathetic attempt to hold on to his power. .

Murkowski is a center-left Big Government Statist, who certainly appeals more to the base of the democrat party than the base of the Republican party, but there is no comparison between her and Mike Castle, who is a hard core leftist. Granted, Chris Coons is a self described Marxist, but he’s almost bankrupted his county, and raised taxes a total of 43% during his tenure, and is looking to do even more.It’s completely reasonable to think democrats, given a chance to vote for Coons or Castle, will choose Castle, simply because they know him, and they know chances are he’ll caucus with the democrats anyway, should he win.

On the other hand, the Republican turnout in Delaware was three times as high as the democrat turnout on primary night. The expected turnout for the Republicans was 30,000. More than twice that many voters pulled the handle for Christine.

There is at least a 2:1 enthusiasm gap, nationwide, between the energized Republican voters and the democrats.

With Bob Dole stepping in and bringing some unity to the Republican Party, things are looking quite good for Christine O’Donnell indeed.

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