Regulation

Poll shows bipartisan opposition to Internet sales tax

The push in Congress for the Internet sales tax may have died down some since the measure cleared the Senate back in May, but a new poll shows bipartisan opposition to the proposed measure currently stalled in the House.

The poll, commissioned by the R Street Institute and the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), found that 57% of likely voters oppose the Internet sales tax, known in Congress as the “Marketplace Fairness Act.” Only 35% support the measure. Those numbers are mostly inline with a Gallup poll released on the issue in June.

Opponents of the legislation, which is being pushed by brick-and-mortar retailers and revenue hungry state governments, point out that the tax isn’t fair at all to online retailers. They note that the measure will impose an enormous regulatory burden on small businesses, making them a tax collector for more than 9,600 jurisdictions, and lead to higher prices for consumers.

The R Street/NTU survey also shows that nearly 66% of Republicans, 56% of independents and a plurality of Democrats oppose the Internet sales tax. Among ideologies, 65% of conservatives and 55% of moderates oppose the measure. A plurality of liberal also opposed the measure, at 47/45, though that was in the polls margin of error.

LA Senate: Mary Landrieu trails Republican challenger

Mary Landrieu

Republicans have a very real shot at picking off Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), according to a poll released yesterday by Conservative Intelligence Briefing.

Landrieu, who has served in the Senate since 1997, is thought to be one of the most vulnerable Democrats facing re-election next year and the outcome of the race could determine whether Republicans take control of the chamber. But it looks like Landrieu and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) will have their work cut out for them if they hope to retain control of the seat.

“The poll, conducted for Conservative Intel last week by Harper Polling, shows the three-term senator trailing, 47 to 45 percent, against U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, a Republican representing most of the Baton Rouge area,” wrote David Freddoso, editor of the conservative site.

“This despite the fact that Cassidy, a medical doctor who announced his candidacy in April, is not very well known throughout the state — 59 percent of the 596 likely voters surveyed did not know enough about him to form a favorable or unfavorable opinion,” he added. “Cassidy’s lead is well within the poll’s four-point margin of error, so the two should be considered in a statistical tie. On the generic ballot, 42 percent of respondents said they would prefer to elect a Republican, versus 41 percent who wanted a Democrat to win.”

Regulation puts teens’ business in jeopardy

rental cars

Imagine that you’ve come up with a great idea to build a niche in the rental car industry that brilliantly minimizes the typical overhead costs that most rental car companies incur. The business is taking off and all seems to be going great when, of course, regulators start asking questions.

That’s what happened to three incredibly talented teenagers in San Francisco. The trio, all of whom had been offered admission to prestigious schools in the northeast, had started a rental car business, FlightCar, in which they offered incentives to travelling passengers to let them rent their vehicles while they were out of town to other travelers.

Earlier this week, ABC News noted that the teens had got the attention of other rental car companies which in-turn complained to regulators. Their business is now threatened under absurd complaints of “unfair competition”:

CEO Rajul Zaparde, 18, one of FlightCar’s co-founders, tells ABC News the company already has signed up 1,400 owners and has arranged 1,500 rentals.

Until Zaparde hit rental car paydirt, he had been headed to Harvard. Now he and co-founders Shri Graneshram, 19, and Kevin Petrovic, 19, have launched a second operation at Boston’s Logan Airport.

Foes of FlightCar, however, have started to shoot back.

It’s easy to see how traditional rental companies might not be amused to have their prices undercut. But San Francisco International is crying foul, as well.

Doug Yakel, public information officer for SFO, tells ABC News that FlightCar refuses to play by the rules that govern other rental car companies. It doesn’t pay the same fees, he says, and it doesn’t abide by the same regulations.

Barney Frank Backs a Free Market Policy

Last month was the third anniversary of the Durbin amendment to the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. Before the law, banks were charging 44 cents per debt card transaction. But this amendment, sponsored by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), capped the fee that banks could charge for debit card usage, and consumers have paid the price.

Though it was a praised as a win for consumers, the effect of the Durbin amendment has been for banks to seek revenue they’ve lost because of the price control on the fee by shifting the burden onto account holders — either by eliminating free checks accounts, rewards programs, and/or increasing other account holder-related fees.

Writing last week at Forbes, Timothy Lee, Senior Vice-President of Legal and Public Affairs for the Center for Individual Freedom, explained the Durbin amendment “cost banks over $8 billion in the first year alone.” Lee notes these consequences have caused former Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), the House sponsor of the financial reform law, to support it repeal:

How disastrous has the Durbin Amendment proven?  Well, even Barney Frank, the famously hyper-regulatory coauthor of Dodd-Frank itself, acknowledged that the amendment harms consumers rather than helps them.  Frank also supported legislative measures to revisit it, adding, “I believe that a free market approach in this area will be better for the economy and all concerned parties than the current system.”

When Barney Frank sings the praises of the free market as a superior alternative, it speaks volumes.

IRS Official Who Oversaw Tea Party Discrimination Now Leads Agency ObamaCare Office

We heard it on the floor of the House of Representatives yesterday from Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA). He made it very clear to his fellow members that the vote to repeal ObamaCare was a “vote to stop the IRS.”

That proclamation was true for two reasons. First, the IRS was given authority to enforce ObamaCare’s individual mandate and the collect the fines imposed on Americans who don’t purchase health insurance coverage. The IRS has also far exceed its statutory authority by imposing fines on businesses that don’t offer coverage to employees in states that rejected the insurance exchanges. Those points by themselves are concerning enough.

The second point is that the IRS official who oversaw the office that dealt with tax-exempt organizations during the time the agency was discriminating against Tea Party groups is now leading the office responsible for ObamaCare:

Sarah Hall Ingram served as commissioner of the office responsible for tax-exempt organizations between 2009 and 2012. But Ingram has since left that part of the IRS and is now the director of the IRS’ Affordable Care Act office, the IRS confirmed to ABC News today.

Nearly Half of Small Businesses Believe ObamaCare will Hurt Them

ObamaCare

The White House and leading congressional Democrats are still trying to fight back against critics of ObamaCare, but their specious case isn’t convincing skeptical small business owners. According to a recent survey from Gallup, only 9% believe that the law will help them, while 48% of small business owners believe ObamaCare is going to be bad for business:

To show how deep the concern over the law goes and the messaging problem before apologists of the law, only 13% of small business owners believe that ObamaCare will improve quality of healthcare.

FreeEnterprise.com, the official blog of the United States Chamber of Commerce, also points to a separate poll of business owners showing the confusion over ObamaCare and points to the fact that “41% said [of sma held off on hiring workers, and 38% said they’ve pulled back on growing their businesses because of the law.”

Obama Urges Americans to be Financially Aware

President Barack Obama, who has overseen four consecutive years of $1 trillion budget deficits and $6 trillion added to the national debt in a little more than four years, issued a proclamation last week designating April as “National Financial Capability Month”:

President Barack Obama, who has increased the national debt by $53,377 per household, has proclaimed April “National Financial Capability Month,” during which his administration will do things such as teach young people “how to budget responsibly.”

“I call upon all Americans to observe this month with programs and activities to improve their understanding of financial principles and practices,” Obama said in an official proclamation released Friday.
[…]
“Together, we can prepare young people to tackle financial challenges—from learning how to budget responsibly to saving for college, starting a business, or opening a retirement account,” he said.

The proclamation from the White House links to a site, MyMoney.gov, a resource for Americans to help them make sound financial decisions.

Mercatus Center Releases “Freedom in the 50 States” Rankings

Freedom in the 50 States

Do you live in a free state? This question would receive a variety of answers because, after all, the 50 states make up our Union each have their own versions and views on freedom.

Politicians on the “left coast” view freedom as “freedom from want,” which is why they have set in place a vast — and costly — welfare state and burdensome regulatory policies. The north isn’t too dissimilar, especially with its emphasis on nanny state policies.

States that comprise the “libertarian west” and the south tend to have fiscally conservative-leanings and the approach toward personal liberty is, while not great on every issue, generally much less regulated.

So how do you determine if you live in a free state? The Mercatus Center has released its annual report, Freedom in the 50 States, which serves as a guide to weigh various aspects of freedom — fiscal policy, regulatory policy, and personal freedom.

The authors of the report, William Ruger and Jason Sorens, explained their findings yesterday and concluded that states that clamp down on freedoms are seeing people leave for states with more freedom.

“The more a state denies people their freedoms, increases their taxes or passes laws that make it hard for businesses to hire and fire, the more likely they are to leave,” wrote the authors of the report. “And while there’s clearly more to life than drinking oversized beverages and eating foie gras, the states that won’t allow you to often cause trouble for their residents in other ways.”

Will Europe Regulate Over the Top Services on the Mobile Internet?

Mobile web browsing

At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last month, I was surprised that nobody had access to 4G mobile Internet services. How could Barcelona, the second largest city in Spain and host to the “world’s premier mobile industry event,” lack access to 4G? In the opening day keynote session, Vittorio Colao, Vodafone’s CEO, said Europe has only 6% of the world’s LTE connections, and Telefónica’s CEO, César Alierta, said only 17% of European mobile subscribers have smartphones. European mobile operators agreed they are lagging the world in 4G deployment and penetration due to existing price regulations that discourage new infrastructure investments.

Europe now stands at a crossroads: Does it adopt the modern, investment-based approach toward wireless markets that made the US the world’s 4G leader, or does it further increase regulation and impose new obligations on “over the top” (e.g., Skype) services? Our history with the regulation of rural telephone companies demonstrates the perils of the second option. Yet European mobile operators appear ready to embrace new regulations as a means to enhance their business and create a “balanced relationship” with “US companies” that provide over the top (OTT) services.

Club for Growth releases 2012 scorecard

United States Capitol

The Club for Growth, one of Washington’s most high-profile conservative organizations, released its annual scorecard earlier this week, providing a measure of who in Congress is fighting to reduce government spending and regulation.

The scorecard shows how members of House of Representatives and the Senate voted during the 2012 session on key, pro-growth issues ranging from keeping the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts in place to capping transportation spending to expanding free trade to banning earmarks.

“Whether it was the GOP’s support of massive tax increases or the constant assault on liberty by the Obama administration, the pro-growth caucus in Congress has a lot of work to do in 2013,” Club for Growth President Chris Chocola explained in a statement. “The Club’s scorecard is intended to help our members and the general public understand who talks a good game on limiting government and passing pro-growth policies, and who backs up their words with votes.”

So who in Congress have been working for the taxpayer? Obviously, we can’t list everybody who scored well, for sake of space, so we’re going to limit it to the top in each chamber. You can find the 2012 scorecard by clicking here.

Best of the Best in the House of Representatives

 


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