Over at the FreedomWorks blog, Emily Zanotti dives into to one of my favorite issues — cigarette taxes. Smokers in Washington have apparently realized that it’s cheaper for them to purchase their cigarettes from Idaho, Oregon or on the black market rather than pay the $3.02 in-state tax for a pack of smokes.
While Washington’s excessively high cigarette tax has been a boon to its neighbors, Zanotti notes that Oregon is considering an increase to discourage smoking, not realizing that the increased sales are coming from out of state:
Oregon is now also considering a state tax, the thought being that this sudden boom in cigarette sales could line their pockets as well. Of course, Oregon is conveniently ignoring that the cigarette sales boom is actually the result of more expensive cigarettes to the north, and that Idaho to the East would just as quickly turn into a destination vacation for Oregon’s smokers as Oregon did for Washington’s.
The Republican primary for Georgia open Senate seat is sure to be an interesting one to watch. It doesn’t seem like anyone currently announced or expected to announce have really done a lot to drive support. This provides a more Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), who has set a mid-May deadline for a decision, has apparently spoken with the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) about the race, according to Politico:
Republican Rep. Tom Price met Monday with senior officials at the National Republican Senatorial Committee, according to two sources.
The Georgia congressman continues to mull a run for the seat opened up by Sen. Saxby Chambliss’ retirement.
Price, a former chairman of the Republican Study Committee, raised more than $300,000 in the two weeks after Chambliss retired and had $1.6 million cash on hand at the end of the year.
There are no details as to what exactly was discussed, but Price would be a formidable candidate if he decided to throw his hat in the ring. But Politico does note something that has been mentioned from people I’ve spoken to in Georgia politics. Price, who was elected to Congress in 2004, currently serves as Vice Chairman of the House Budget Committee, behind Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), and would presumably be next in line to lead the powerful committee.
Backed by $674 million in federal grants, California’s slick new ObamaCare exchange site for purchasing PPACA-approved health coverage starting January 1, 2014 is now up and running. You can tour this marvel of government-driven healthcare at CoveredCA.com. Only 288 days until “coverage” begins!
Some of the highlights:
- The exchange materials refer to Covered California as a “marketplace” rather than an “exchange.” This is a recent policy change directive from HHS. As FreedomWorks’ director of healthcare policy Dean Clancy stated in response to the change, “They could call them motherhood or apple pie, but it wouldn’t change our feelings about them.” We subsequently learned that the real motivation for the change is that is that there isn’t a good Spanish translation for “exchange.”
Kibbe and FreedomWorks have supported fiscally conservative primary challengers — including Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and Justin Amash — in open primaries or against more moderate Republicans and they’ve sponsored grassroots training for thousands of freedom movement activists. The Republican Main Street Partnership has been pushing for a more centrist party.
Tune in at 2pm (EST). This should a fun one to watch, folks.
Yesterday, Carl Levin (D-MI), who has served in the Senate since 1979 and was one of key figures behind the indefinite detention provision in the NDAA, announced that he would not seek re-election in 2014:
U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, who has been a force for progressivism in the Senate since 1979 and made his mark in recent years as chairman of the powerful Armed Services Committee, will not run for re-election next year, likely setting off a political avalanche of interest in the seat.
Levin, 78, released a statement Thursday afternoon saying he made the decisions believing “I can best serve my state and my nation by concentrating in the next two years on the challenging issues before us … in other words, by doing my job without the distraction of campaigning for re-election.”
With Republicans having some modest success in the state in the 2010 mid-term, when Gov. Rick Synder was first elected, and taking control of the state legislature in the most recent election, there could be a door open to take control of this seat in 2014. Among those who may find interest in the seat coud be Rep. Justin Amash.
Rep. Amash, who has cast himself in the mold of Ron Paul and explains every single one of his votes on his Facebook page, has been one of the most vocal defenders of the Constitution in the House of Representatives. He has taken on his own party’s leadership and remained popular in his district.
As Republicans in the Peach State vie for position in the 2014 Senate race, Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA), who is perhaps the most liberty-minded member of the delegation, released a statement this morning explaining that he will not run for the seat being left open by Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA).
“The last several weeks have been a very exciting time for me and my family as we considered the opportunity to serve Georgia in the United States Senate. It has been an honor to receive so much support from Georgians and grassroots conservatives around the country, and I am confident that we would run a very competitive campaign,” explained Graves in a statement sent by his office. “My decision rested on what would be best for my family, my district and the state of Georgia, and I have concluded that the right path for now is to forgo this Senate race and continue serving in my current role.”
“After receiving so much encouragement to enter the race, I now know we are at the beginning of a long journey in Georgia state politics,” Graves said. “I look forward to taking on a greater leadership role in our congressional delegation as many of our senior members enter the primary, and it is important for my supporters to know that I intend to continue preparing for future opportunities to serve Georgia.”
Rasmussen has a new poll out today showing that 54% of Americans support raising the minimum wage to $9 an hour. While this latest part of President Obama’s agenda may give people a warm and fuzzy feeling — because, after all, who doesn’t want to “reward an honest day’s work with honest wages,” as President Obama put it in his State of the Union address — the economics behind the minimum wage don’t make much sense.
Julie Borowski has a new video out this week explaining why the minimum wage ultimately hurts the very people its intended to help. Listen up, folks:
During his time in Congress, Ron Paul (R-TX) brought the idea of auditing the Federal Reserve into the mainstream. Not only was the Audit the Fed bill passed by the House last year, some of the candidates seeking the Republican presidential nomination adopted the idea from Dr. Paul.
Though Paul may have retired, the legislation requiring an audit of the Federal Reserve has been reintroduced in both chambers for the current Congress — by Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) in the House and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) in the Senate.
While some may question the need to audit the Federal Reserve, a new video from FreedomWorks featuring Julie Borowski explains the rational behind the legislation and notes that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who once introduced similar legislation, is the biggest obstacle to a vote in the upper chamber:
The fight for the heart and soul of the Republican Party heated up this weekend as David Brooks, whose columns at The New York Times occasionally knock the freedom movement, claimed that the establishment would eventually triumph:
“I think it’s the beginning of a longer-lasting thing,” Brooks said. “There’s been a lot of calls for Republicans to change. And we have seen that from everybody to Paul Ryan to Marco Rubio. Now we’re beginning to see the donor class really begin to change. There is some question: Are they trying to change just the candidates, so they don’t get Todd Akin, or they trying to actually change some of the substance? And, so far, it seems to be just the candidates. One of the interesting things — and I can’t say I know the answer to this — is, how much will the tea party fight back? There has been some effort that they are saying, oh, the establishment is taking over.”
“But my own sense of things so far is that there is not the will to fight among the tea party, and that a lot of people in the tea party are, frankly — they’re not,” he continued. “They are also Republicans. Say, Rush Limbaugh, for example, who is not tea party. He’s more an establishment Republican who wants the Republican Party to win. So I have a feeling that the establishment is going to have maybe an easier time of it than some might think.”
With Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) deciding to retire, potential candidates on both sides of the aisle are weighing bids for the open seat, including former Secretary of State Karen Handel and Reps. Paul Broun and Tom Price. A couple of Georgia-based political consultants didn’t waste any time in measuring the strength of the likely crowded Republican field.
- Sonny Perdue: 22.4%
- Karen Handel: 15%
- Paul Broun: 10.3%
- Tom Price: 9.7%
- Lynn Westmoreland: 8.4%
- Tom Graves: 6.3%
- Brian Kemp: 3.4%
- Undecided: 24.5%