Today in Liberty: House Republican Leadership elections are today, terrible bipartisan idea to hike the gas tax on the horizon

“The more the state ‘plans,’ the more difficult planning becomes for the individual.” — F.A. Hayek

— Raul Labrador makes his case for Majority Leader: Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) pitched his candidacy on Wednesday for House Majority Leader to his fellow Republicans. “If you have an idea, I want to empower you to take it through committee. You will not always succeed, but I want you to feel like you had a fair shot. I want members of Congress to be more relevant than the staff. Why are we even here if the leadership staff is going to make all decisions any way?” Labrador asked, according to prepared remarks. “I want the process to work. If bills pass, they must pass on their merits. I don’t want any more SGR bills passing on voice votes, Transportation/Postal Reform deals that nobody has heard of, NSA reform bills that pass a committee unanimously and are changed and watered down in the Rules committee.” He also said that he wants bill text posted online for at least 72 hours before the House votes and for the Republicans to keep their pledge to “reform Congress and restore trust,” asking his colleagues if they believed that they’d followed through on that promise. “If you vote for the status quo [on Thursday], you will prove that we are still not listening,” said Labrador. “We will break our pledge and with that we may lose the ability to regain control of the Senate and eventually win the Presidency.” The vote is schedule for today. We’ll have the results posted as soon as they’re available. Courtsey of Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), you can get an idea of how some House Republicans plan to vote.

— And the Whip race could be interesting: While most believe that Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has the Majority Leader post locked up, the race for Majority Whip seems to be competitive. “Republican Study Committee Chairman Steve Scalise of Louisiana got a boost Wednesday morning. Reps. Joe Pitts and Bill Shuster, both of Pennsylvania, pledged their support to Scalise and said they would whip their 11 GOP Keystone State colleagues, many of whom remain undecided, according to a source familiar with the group,” Roll Call explains. “Their backing could put Scalise over the top. He has been leading the field, according to sources, by pressing the case for a red-state conservative at the leadership table. The support from a Northern state like Pennsylvania could shore up votes where he is weakest. Yet the group may not vote as a monolith; Rep. Tim Murphy said he already agreed to support Scalise’s rival, Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam of Illinois.” The wildcard is Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) and his supporters. He doesn’t seem likely to get into a second round of voting, which means his supporters would have to choose between Scalise and Roskam.

— Ex-Im Bank is “little more than a fund for corporate welfare”: That’s what then-candidate Barack Obama called it back in September 2008. “There’s some programs that have been duplicated by other programs that we just need to cut back, like waste at the Economic Development Agency and the Export-Import Bank, that’s become little more than a fund for corporate welfare. I understand also there are parts of these programs that may be worth defending, and politicians in both parties will definitely do so,” Obama told supporters at a Wisconsin campaign event. “But if we hope to meet the challenges of our time, we have to make difficult choices.” President Obama urged Congress to reauthorize the crony Ex-Im Bank in 2012, signing the measure into law in May of that year. Guess we’ll add this to list the list of things that Obama has backpedaled on since entering the White House. Thanks to Club for Growth spokesman Barney Keller for tweeting this video out yesterday.

— Here’s a terrible, bipartisan idea: Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Bob Corker (R-TN) are teaming up to raise the federal gas tax. “The Murphy-Corker plan would raise the gas tax by 12 cents over the next two years, raising $164 billion over the next decade and covering the shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund,” The Hill explains. “It would index the gas tax to inflation, pegging it to the Consumer Price Index, to avoid future shortfalls.” Or Congress could adopt the plan pushed by Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) to cut out the bureaucratic middleman and block grant funding to the states rather than raise taxes at a time when gas prices are inching higher. The Club for Growth quicky announced its opposition to the Murphy-Corker plan. “This is a $164 billion dollar tax increase, plain and simple. A gas tax hike would be both bad policy and terribly anti-growth. It’s not an example of political courage to avoid reforming a broken system,” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola in a press release. “Instead of standing up to the special interests who feast on the chronically bankrupt Highway Trust Fund year after year, Senator Corker and Senator Murphy have essentially decided that throwing more money into a black hole is a good path forward. It’s not.” Americans for Tax Reform also knocked the proposal.

— Death tax repeal gets majority support: Add Rep. Kevin Brady’s (R-TX) Death Tax Repeal Act to the list of measures that have gained at least 218 cosponsors. “It’s official. A majority of the U.S. House stands for permanently repealing the terrible Death Tax,” Brady said in a release. “It continues to be the number one reason family-owned farms and businesses aren’t passed down to the next generation, and it’s time to bury it once and for all.” Brady’s office cited a 2011 study by economist Stephen Entin finding that the repeal of the death tax would lead to higher federal tax revenues due to the economic activity created. The Death Tax Repeal Act has a total of 221 cosponsors.

— Thad Cochran’s ignorance: Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) doesn’t seem to be aware of, well, anything. The 76-year-old Republican was asked what he thinks about his supporters getting help from Democrats to win next week’s runoff. “I don’t know anything about that. Hadn’t heard that,” Cochran told WAPT News. “I don’t know who you’re talking about.” It’s not the first time Cochran has been oblivious. United Liberty noted earlier this week that he “made an odd joke about doing indecent things to animals as a child” and then said he “didn’t remember making those comments.” He was also unaware of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) primary loss, perhaps one of the biggest, most covered political stories in recent memory.

— The Cheneys come roaring back with neocon nonprofit: Former Vice President Dick Cheney and daughter Liz have launched a nonprofit organization called Alliance for a Strong America, which seeks to “[reverse] President Obama’s policies.” The Cheneys penned an editorial in the Wall Street Journal titled “The Collapsing Obama Doctrine” concluding, “American freedom will not be secured by empty threats, meaningless red lines, leading from behind, appeasing our enemies, abandoning our allies, or apologizing for our great nation—all hallmarks to date of the Obama doctrine. Our security, and the security of our friends around the world, can only be guaranteed with a fundamental reversal of the policies of the past six years.” Fox News’ Megyn Kelly wasn’t having any of it, saying in an interview with the Cheneys, “Time and time again, history has proven that you got it wrong as well in Iraq, sir.” Our friends over at Rare believe the Cheneys’ recent venture is a response to Rand Paul and rising non-interventionist sentiments within the Republican Party. POLITICO has taken notice of the “neocon surge.”

— Obama Administration goes on offense on missing IRS emails: Lois Lerner and 6 other IRS employees claimed to have lost more than two years worth of emails with outside organizations and entities, possibly pertaining to the IRS targeting of conservative nonprofit organizations. Yesterday, the White House went on offense, claiming it couldn’t find any of the missing emails from Lerner or anyone else from the IRS to the Executive Office of the President. Outgoing White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, “We found zero emails, sorry to disappoint, between Lois Lerner and anyone within the EOP during this period.” Of course, Jay Carney’s never been particularly forthright when it comes to directly answering questions. And as of late last night/early this morning, it doesn’t seem those emails will ever be recovered. According to sources, the hard drive on which Lerner’s missing emails may have been stored has been recycled.

WaPo’s Milbank gets smacked around for Benghazi panel misreporting: Dana Milbank, left-wing political columnist for the Washington Post and regular guest on MSNBC, wildly exaggerated a panel presented by the Heritage Foundation addressing “unanswered questions” about the Benghazi scandal. Long story short, a young Muslim woman asked a question and was rebuked by a panelist. Milbank’s account was so wildly different from what actually happened that POLITICO’s media blogger Dylan Byers called him out on it. Late Wednesday evening, Milbank doubled down and responded to Byers’ criticism, accusing him of “armchair journalism” for not having been there. Watch the clip and decide for yourself.

— Amazon’s drone delivery could actually be a thing in the near future: In December 2013, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos took to “60 Minutes” to tout a futuristic service: same-day delivery… by drone. One writer over at the Huffington Post suggested the spot, which aired just before Cyber Monday, was marketing genius on the part of Amazon but that the technology was likely a decade or more away. The Guardian also dismissed the story as a publicity stunt. And in February, the FAA grounded drones that were delivering beer to ice fishers in Minnesota. (You can imagine how distraught Senator Rand Paul was to hear this news.) But just yesterday it was reported that Amazon Prime Air hired Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld to lobby “with regard to testing and operation of [unmanned aerial vehicles] in the US” for commercial purposes. Drone delivery may not be as far off as the skeptics suggest.

Other items we’re reading this morning:

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