Carl Levin

Washington’s Disdain for Wealth Creators Is a Big Part of the Problem

Written by Daniel Ikenson, director of the Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

Like too many other long-reigning fixtures on Capitol Hill, Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) doesn’t appreciate the magnitude of the challenge to the authority he presumes to hold over America’s job and wealth creators. Or maybe he does, and frustration over that fact explains why he besmirches companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Hewlett-Packard.

Levin presided over a Senate hearing last week devoted to examining the “loopholes and gimmicks” used by these multinational companies to avoid paying taxes – and to branding them dirty tax scofflaws. Well here’s a news flash for the senator: incentives matter.

The byzantine U.S. tax code, which Senator Levin – over his 33-year tenure in the U.S. Senate (one-third of a century!) – no doubt had a hand or two in shaping, includes the highest corporate income tax rate among all of the world’s industrialized countries and the unusual requirement that profits earned abroad by U.S. multinationals are subject to U.S. taxation upon repatriation. No other major economy does that. Who in their right minds would not expect those incentives to encourage moving production off shore and keeping profits there?

Jon Stewart on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)

On Wednesday, Jon Stewart covered the Senate’s passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which contains language that would allow the federal government to detain American citizens indefinitely without formal charges or trial.

Listen carefully and call your members of Congress:

So much for the Great Writ of Habeas Corpus

The United States Senate voted yesterday to keep language in a defense authorization bill that would allow the federal government to indefinately detain American citizens without formal charges based on merely on the suspicion that they may be terrorists. Apparently, the writ of Habeau Corpus doesn’t mean what it used to:

The Senate soundly defeated a move to strip out controversial language requiring mandatory detention of some terror suspects, voting it down 61 to 37 and escalating a fight with the Obama administration over the future course of the war on terror.

The proposed amendment to the massive National Defense Authorization Act would require the FBI and other civilian law enforcement agencies to transfer al-Qaida suspects arrested overseas on charges of planning or carrying out a terror attack into military custody. It wouldn’t apply to American citizens, but the change has drawn strong opposition from civil rights groups and the White House, which has promised to veto the defense bill if that language was included.

The provision has also split the Democratic Party, triggering an unusual fight between the White House and Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, who co-wrote the measure and took to the floor earlier on Tuesday to defend the amendment. Levin has also found himself in the cross hairs of powerful Democrats like Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein of California. Both lawmakers urged their colleagues to strip the detainee language out of the bill and accused Levin of overstepping his jurisdiction.

But Levin’s biggest Democratic opponent was Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., who sponsored an amendment designed to remove the detainee language.

Obama considers arming rebels in Libya

While Ed Schultz would ask us whether we’re with the terrorists or the President of the United States, if Barack Obama follows through on arming rebels in Libya I can’t help but think that we may be creating terrorists:

The president said he’d neither decided on nor ruled out providing arms to rebels as part of U.S. assistance in efforts to overthrow Gadhafi short of more direct American military intervention.

“I’m not ruling it out. But I’m also not ruling it in,” Obama told NBC News in an interview Tuesday evening.

“It’s fair to say that if we wanted to get weapons into Libya, we probably could,” Obama told ABC.
[…]
“But we’re not taking anything off the table at this point,” Obama said. “Our primary military goal is to protect civilian populations and to set up the no-fly zone. Our primary strategic goal is for Gadhafi to step down so that the Libyan people have an opportunity to live a decent life.”

Providing arms to the rebels could carry some political controversy, especially as questions swirl about the exact tenor of the opposition, particularly whether al Qaeda has joined rebel efforts in Libya. Some lawmakers have expressed concern about al Qaeda factions within the opposition, and there could be some pause before providing arms to those suspected of being affiliated with anti-American groups.


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