Chad’s Morning Brief: Senate Passes Internet Sales Tax Bill, Benghazi, & More
Here is your Morning Brief for the morning of May 7, 2013. Give me your feedback below and tune in to The Chad Hasty Show for these and many more topics from 8:30 to 11am.
1. Internet Sales Tax (link)
The days of tax-free shopping online could be coming to an end. The Marketplace Fairness Act would give states the power to require retailers with sales over $1 million dollars to collect local and state sales taxes. The bill passed 70-24 and had both Democratic and Republican support.
The bill has the support of president Barack Obama the majority of senators including Republican John McCain but Marco Rubio, seen a potential Republican presidential hopeful, and Rand Paul both voted against the bill.
The bill passed the Senate by 70 votes to 24 but faces a second test in the House of Representatives where internet retailers and conservatives are already lobbying against the tax. House leaders have yet to schedule hearings or votes on their version of the measure.
The legislation would overturn a 1992 supreme court ruling that said a state could not force a retailer to collect sales tax unless the retailer had a physical presence in the state.
The bill has aligned unlikely parties. Amazon, the largest online retailer, has joined its bricks-and-mortar rivals including Walmart to support the act. Amazon was once a staunch critic of the tax but as it has built more distribution centers it has become liable for sales tax in more states and is now a backer.
The largest online opponent is eBay, which has campaigned against the bill and organised a mass protest by its sellers. Other opponents include numerous conservative and antitax groups including Americans for Tax Reform, FreedomWorks and Heritage Action.
Ahead of the vote the National Retail Federation called for Congress to "level the playing field" and tax online retailers. "The Marketplace Fairness Act is a commonsense piece of legislation necessary to modernize and streamline our federal and state understanding of sales tax laws so that they can keep current with real world change in the marketplace," said NRF senior vice president David French.
The bill's fate is uncertain in the House. Hopefully lawmakers will wake up and vote against this legislation.
2. Military Response Could Have Helped in Benghazi (link)
Could the military have prevented one wave of the deadly attack in Benghazi? According to one diplomatic official, the answer is yes.
The U.S. military could have prevented one wave of the deadly attack on American personnel in Benghazi if fighter jets had been promptly deployed, a top diplomatic official who was in Benghazi during the Sept. 11 assault told congressional investigators.
The account, contained in a transcript obtained by Fox News, was given by Gregory Hicks during an interview last month with the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Hicks, a whistle-blower who is preparing to testify Wednesday before that committee, was deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Libya -- after Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed that night, he became the highest-ranking diplomat on the ground.
Hicks, in his interview, argued that after the first wave of attacks on the U.S. consulate, the U.S. military could have prevented additional violence with a quickly scrambled flight -- after the first wave, terrorists would go on to launch a pre-dawn mortar assault on the CIA annex.
"And so, in my personal opinion, a fast-mover flying over Benghazi at some point, you know, as soon as possible might very well have prevented some of the bad things that happened that night," Hicks said, according to the transcript.
He acknowledged that this would have required clearance from the Libyan government, since it is their airspace, but claimed the government would have approved such a flight.
This, he said, could have stopped that mortar assault.
"I believe if we had been able to scramble a fighter or aircraft or two over Benghazi as quickly as possible after the attack commenced, I believe there would not have been a mortar attack on the annex in the morning because I believe the Libyans would have split," he said. "They would have been scared to death that we would have gotten a laser on them and killed them."
Hicks suggested the Libyan government expected a request to use their airspace, and claimed the Libyans "were as surprised as we were" that U.S. military personnel did not arrive until later on.
With everything starting to come out about Benghazi, it doesn't look good for the Obama administration. Possible cover-ups, intimidation, and lies. Just wait until Wednesday when testimony is heard.
3. Nation Notices Ted Cruz (link)
According to the Washington Post, the nation has noticed Senator Ted Cruz.
Dinner with Ted Cruz required prep work. A strategy. This much Jessica Herrera-Flanigan knew about her friend of many years, the conservative Harvard law school standout who later became the solicitor general of Texas.
“Don’t talk politics!” she warned her boyfriend and future husband, Thomas Flanigan, who happens to be a political liberal. Don’t let him bait you.
But, settled into a table at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant near the capitol in Austin a few years back, Cruz kept coming. Challenging “liberal” notions about climate change. Touting drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Boom. Boom. Boom.
“It’s like, ‘OK, I’m ready to take on the issues. Let’s see if you want to engage with me on it,’ ” recalls Herrera-Flanigan, who was a Harvard Law School classmate of Cruz’s and is now a D.C.-based consultant. “It’s not the political niceties.”
Cruz, as ever, was being the verbal grinder, the self-assured, nonstop talker who won national debate championships as an undergraduate at Princeton. In the realm of organized debating, there were rules and understandings. Point-counterpoint. Debate for the sake of debate to provoke a discussion, to make a point. And Cruz had many points to make in more than an hour of impassioned but convivial intellectual jousting.
In the four months since taking office as the junior senator from Texas, Cruz has been doing to Washington what he did to Herrera-Flanigan’s boyfriend: daring it to engage, looking for a fight and getting it. Not only has Washington taken the bait, but Cruz has turned into the shiny new thing for right-flank Republicans in the 2016 presidential speculation game. His buzz-worthiness was boosted by his selection as the headliner for the GOP’s Silver Elephant Dinner on Friday night in the early-primary state of South Carolina, and has been mightily stoked by a widely read National Review piece citing sources who say Cruz is seriously mulling a presidential bid.
Cruz, who honed his reputation early in his career as a dazzling Supreme Court advocate, has bashed into the national conversation, in part, by criticizing his own party, lamenting a “defeatist attitude” among establishment Republicans that he finds “utterly maddening.” He jeered Mitt Romney, saying the Republican presidential candidate “French-kissed” President Obama at their third debate and slashed his Republican Senate colleagues as “squishes” on gun laws. And he raised dark questions about whether payments from “extreme or radical groups” might be hidden in undisclosed income statements of the eventual defense secretary, former Republican senator, Chuck Hagel.
Cruz is absolutely in the media spotlight. Will he be able to handle the media though when they attempt to tear him down? I'm guessing so.
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