Archive for the ‘The Constitution’ Category
Charles Kline Professor of History and Management
Originally posted May 13, 2013, at BurtFolsom.com.
At Ohio State University, President Obama argued something quite different. He contended that government needs to be large and has done good things when it has been increased in size. To some extent he did a sleight of hand. He often mixed individual achievement and government achievement as though they were the same thing. What is accomplished under “self-government” is not at all the same as what is accomplished under “government.” “The Founders left us,” the president said, “the power to adapt to changing times. They left us the key to a system of self-government–the tool to do big and important things together that we could not possibly do alone.” That included, among other things, the president said, “To stretch railroads and electricity and a highway system across a sprawling continent. To educate our people. . . .” (THIS WHOLE PARAGRAPH IS B.S.!!!!!)
Last night the Senate passed the misnamed Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA), popularly known as the Internet sales tax, by a 69–27 margin. The troubling bill will now move over to the House.
The bill would grant states the authority to force online retailers (with online sales over $1 million per year) to collect sales taxes for states in which they have no physical presence. President Obama has said he would sign the billif it passes Congress.
Right now, states can force only businesses that have a physical presence in their state — a store, warehouse, or plant — to collect their sales taxes. This long-existing standard originated from the Supreme Court’s ruling in the 1992 Quill case. This standard was sensible then as it is now.
If you buy something online from a business that has a physical presence in your state, that business will collect sales tax from you. In fact, since the biggest online retailers—such as Walmart, Target, and even Amazon—already have a physical presence in most states, you likely already pay sales tax on a good portion of your online purchases. However, if you buy from a smaller online retailer that doesn’t have a presence in your state, it cannot be forced to collect sales tax from you.
The MFA would require online retailers to collect sales tax regardless of their physical presence. This would impose a tremendous burden on small online retailers.
For instance, it would allow Maryland to tell a small online business in Virginia that sells Virginia hams and peanuts that it has to collect Maryland’s sales tax on sales it makes to customers living in Maryland, even though the Virginia business has no attachment to Maryland other than a few customers.
Abandoning the physical presence standard would be an egregious violation of basic principles of federalism, because it would allow states to expand their power to tax and to regulate beyond their borders. The stakeholders of those businesses—the owners and employees—would have had no part in the political process that formed the state sales tax they would now have to comply with. And they would have no access to the ongoing political process in those states to address any problems they have with the laws.
Supporters of the MFA say the bill is about “fairness” because it would equalize the tax treatment between identical products purchased at brick-and-mortar stores and online stores. While taxes shouldn’t give an advantage to one type of shopping over another, in this case, the cure is worse than the disease.
The MFA is anything but fair, because instead of leveling the playing field, it would tilt it decidedly against online retailers, particularly small ones. Brick-and-mortar stores would still have to collect sales taxes only where they are physically present. Online retailers would have to collect sales taxes from the nearly 10,000 sales tax jurisdictions around the country where their customers live. That is not an equal burden.
The big online retailers can handle this burden because they have large corporate accountingdepartments. Small online retailers like the business that just wants to sell Virginia ham and peanuts to hungry customers around the country would be smothered by the cost of complying with so many sales taxes. Not to mention that they would be subject to time-consuming and expensive audits from 46 sales tax states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories and possessions, Puerto Rico, and Native American tribes.
Now that the bill has passed the Senate, it will be referred to the House Judiciary Committee. That alone is a welcome development, as too much recent legislation has bypassed the important committee process. The Judiciary Committee should devote further thought to these troubling implications of the MFA.
Statists Use Twisted Logic To Attack The Bill Of Rights
by Brandon Smith (Personal Liberty.com)
In the war for the continued existence of our Nation’s Constitutional principles, I had long wondered whether statists were simply confounded by the Bill of Rights and ignorant of its function or whether they were maliciously inclined, knowing exactly what it means but seeking its destruction anyway. In recent years, I have decided it is a combination of both faults.
Statists are people who view every aspect of society through the lens of government power. If you want to know the primary difference between Constitutionalists and anti-Constitutionalists, you have to understand that some people in this world only want control over their own lives, while other people desperately clamor for control over other people’s lives. Why do they do this? Usually, it’s fear. Fear of the persistent unknowns in life. Fear that they do not have the intelligence or the will to take responsibility for their own futures. Fear that they will be forced to take care of themselves. Fear that their ideologies will be found lacking. Fear that if others are allowed freedom, they will one day indirectly suffer for it.
This fear makes statists easy to manipulate by the establishment and easy to use as a tool for the expansion of government dominance. Because statists are so weak-minded and fainthearted, they become very comfortable with the idea of other people making their decisions for them; and they will always attempt to answer every perceived problem with more government control.
When confronted with a proponent of liberty, the statist typically reels in horror. He has so invested himself in bureaucracy that he sees himself as a part of it. To attack the bureaucracy is to attack him. To deny the validity of the bureaucracy is to deny the validity of his existence. His very personality and ego are tied to the machine, so he will spit and rage against anyone who refuses to conform. This is why it is not uncommon at all to find a wild collection of logical fallacies within the tirades of the average statist. Statists act as though they are driven by reason; but in reality, they are driven by seething bias.
A perfect example of this insanity is the article “There Are No Absolute Rights,” published byThe Daily Beast.
Let’s first be clear about the kind of rag we are dealing with. The Daily Beast was launched by Tina Brown, a former editor of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker who was also a British citizen until 2005. I would say she’s a kind of female Piers Morgan. For anyone who might take that as a compliment, trust me; it isn’t. Brown and Morgan are European collectivists who immigrated to America just to tell us how our Constitutionally conservative heritage of independence is outdated; meanwhile, the EU is in the shambles of failed socialism. We used to drive such people into the ocean, and now they breathe our oxygen while telling us what is politically “fashionable.”
In 2010, The Daily Beast merged with Newsweek, a magazine notorious for its statist crush on the Federal government (and now out of print). To say that The Daily Beast is a socialist platform and a mouthpiece for the Administration of President Barack Obama is an understatement, but I would point out that the website also tends to agree with politicians and judges on the right that also promote a “living document” interpretation of the Constitution. Whether right or left, if you believe that the Bill of Rights is up for constant interpretation and revision or outright destruction, then you are the bee’s knees in the eyes of The Beast.
The article focuses on gun rights and how silly conservatives foolishly cling to the idea that some lines in the sand should never be crossed in terms of personal freedom. In a rather mediocre and rambling analysis, The Beast uses two primary arguments to qualify this stance, essentially asserting that:
- Compromises have already been made to the Bill of Rights; therefore, nothing is sacred.
- Even some Republicans agree with compromises to the Bill of Rights when it comes to other Amendments, so why are we being so childish about “reinterpreting” the 2ndAmendment?
PENTAGON MAY COURT MARTIAL SOLDIERS WHO SHARE CHRISTIAN FAITH
The statement, released to Fox News, follows a Breitbart News report on Obama administration Pentagon appointees meeting with anti-Christian extremist Mikey Weinstein to develop court-martial procedures to punish Christians in the military who express or share their faith.
(From our earlier report: Weinstein is the head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, and says Christians–including chaplains–sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ in the military are guilty of “treason,” and of committing an act of “spiritual rape” as serious a crime as “sexual assault.” He also asserted that Christians sharing their faith in the military are “enemies of the Constitution.”)
Think buying your favorite products online is a good deal? You could face higher costs for online shopping if Congress approves a new sales tax bill that is making its way through the Senate. The bill, dubbed the Marketplace Fairness Act, would allow states to force out-of-state retailers to collect taxes for them.
Right now, online retailers are required to collect sales tax only in states where they have a physical presence, such as a store or warehouse. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and other lawmakers are hastily pushing through a bill to expand the power of state tax collectors, at the expense of online businesses and their customers.
The Internet sales tax bill is actually the antithesis of “fairness” and simply is another vehicle for states to collect new tax revenue to fill gapping budget deficits. Small online sellers will have to comply with tax laws created by distant governments in which they have no representation, Heritage President Jim DeMint wrote in The Wall Street Journal
Nothing Is Conservative About State Tax Collection on Internet Sales
by David S. Addington
The Senate soon will take up ill-advised legislation (S. 743) misnamed the “Marketplace Fairness Act” to authorize every state to force out-of-state businesses to serve as the state’s sales tax collector, overruling the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1992 decision in Quill Corporation v. North Dakota. As Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) said on March 21, 2013, with regard to this proposed exercise of the congressional power to regulate interstate commerce:
There is absolutely nothing conservative about this proposal because, again, what this is about is officials in cash-strapped States across the country looking for new ways to plug their budget holes.
The 1992 Quill Corporation decision protects out-of-state businesses that have no facilities or employees in a state, but receive orders by Internet, mail-order catalog, or telephone from in-state customers, often called “remote sales.” The Supreme Court held that, under the Constitution’s clause authorizing Congress to “regulate commerce…among the several states,” a state could not force those out-of-state businesses to collect the state’s sales tax on remote sales. However, the Court made clear that Congress could, if it wished, pass a law to authorize the states to impose that tax collection requirement on out-of-state businesses. Thus, Senators who wish to authorize states to require out-of-state businesses to serve as their tax collectors have introduced S. 743.
Like the money-hungry federal government, many state governments have financial and political interests in getting their hands on more and more money to grow their governments. It is not surprising that many of those state governments find out-of-state businesses to be lucrative and politically easy targets for tax legislation.
Take, for example, a company whose workforce and warehouses are in New Hampshire, and which has no contacts with Illinois other than taking remote sales orders over the Internet. If, and only if, S. 743 were enacted, the Illinois politicians could order the New Hampshire company to collect sales tax on those remote sales and send the taxes to the Illinois state government.
The Illinois politicians would have nothing to fear, because the damaging effects of the Illinois tax action fall on the New Hampshire company, in the form of an increase in the price of the company’s goods or a cut in its profit margins, or both. And, of course, the New Hampshire employees who understand what the Illinois government just did to them vote in New Hampshire, and not Illinois. Moreover, the Illinois consumers who would pay Illinois state sales taxes to the New Hampshire company, for subsequent forwarding to the Illinois treasury, would likely not understand that their payment of sales tax to the New Hampshire company is the result of a new taxation decision under S. 743 by their home state’s governing officials.
The truth of S. 743 is that all the politicians get to hide from the consequences of their own tax decisions. The federal politicians in the U.S. Senate who vote for S. 743 get to claim that they are not responsible for the tax hikes on Internet sales because “we didn’t impose taxes on Internet sales; the states did.”
Indeed, the federal politicians are so worried that somebody will figure out that their votes made taxes on remote Internet sales possible that they put a feels-good-but-does-nothing provision in section 3(d) of the bill that says “[n]othing in this Act shall be construed as encouraging a State to impose sales and use taxes on any goods or services not subject to taxation prior to the date of the enactment of this Act”—which, of course, leaves states perfectly free to impose the new taxes that the federal politicians authorize but claim not to be encouraging. Similarly, the state politicians get to claim, “we always had a state sales tax, so we did not raise taxes—we just had the out-of-state companies collect them, when they were not collecting them before.”
Do not be fooled. The bottom line of S. 743 is more money out of the pockets of people who buy goods over the Internet, by catalog, or by telephone—which is to say most people. That money goes straight into the coffers of state governments. Less money in the pockets of people, more money for big government—that’s the meaning of S. 743.
David S. Addington
April 19, 2013 by Chip Wood
Congratulations, patriots! Thanks to your unremitting pressure on the politicians in Washington, every single assault on our 2nd Amendment rights went down to defeat in the Senate this week.
Prior to the votes, Senate leaders had agreed that a 60-vote majority would be necessary for approval of the various proposals. They did this to head off a threatened filibuster led by Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
For one of the few times this year, Vice President Joe Biden even returned to the Senate to preside over the voting. The gesture was purely symbolic, since there wasn’t a snowball’s chance that he’d get to exercise his Constitutional prerogative to cast the deciding vote in case of a tie. He was there to gloat in victory; instead, he looked like he had been sucking on lemons when he had to announce the agony of defeat.
Gun control advocates had pulled out all of the stops to get passage, including numerous appearances by relatives of the victims from the schoolhouse slayings in Newtown, Conn., and Tucson, Ariz. President Barack Obama had flown many of them to Washington on board Air Force One so they could lobby lawmakers, appear with him in a photo op in the Rose Garden and pack the Senate galleries. (One violated Senate protocol, and demonstrated very bad manners, by shouting “Shame on you!” after the vote.)
The first vote was taken on the measure gun-control advocates were most confidant of getting passed: expanding background checks to include the private sale or transfer of firearms. This was the highly publicized “compromise” measure put together by Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).
When the votes were tallied, the measure failed by 54-46. Five Democrats joined 41 Republicans in opposing the measure. They included three Senators facing re-election next year: Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Max Baucus of Montana. Significantly, all three States gave Mitt Romney a solid majority last November. The nervous Senators were joined by Heidi Heitkamp, the newly elected junior Senator from North Dakota. And a name most people would be surprised to see on the “no” side was that of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. He made it clear that he cast his negative ballot purely as a procedural matter, so he could bring the measure back up for a vote sometime in the future.
The three Republicans who voted “aye,” in addition to Toomey, can usually be found voting in favor of tougher gun-control measures. They were John McCain of Arizona, Susan Collins of Maine and Mark Kirk of Illinois. No surprises there.