by CHQ Staff
If you thought electing a Republican majority in Congress would usher in an era of fiscal responsibility, think again.
While the tax cuts championed by President Trump have so far kept revenue at record levels – even with lower Money burningtax rates – Congressional spending is skyrocketing, in large measure because Democrats’ big government policies and programs are still driving spending.
For fiscal 2019 year the Pentagon’s budget will be $647 billion and the nation’s domestic budget will be $597 billion.
Here are just a few of the areas where conservatives think federal spending could be eliminated entirely that, according to our friend Rachel Bovard writing for the Federalist, look like they will be included in this year’s omnibus spending bill:
Full funding for Planned Parenthood
Republicans have made it a central campaign promise for years now to end taxpayer funding for America’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood. This issue has gained urgency in light of the Department of Justice investigation into the organization’s dealings in fetal tissue. Yet, drafts of this latest funding bill preserve the $10 million a year that Planned Parenthood receives from taxpayers. Conservative House Republicans are making an admirable play to remove it, but have not been issued any guarantees. The bill also lacks any of the conscience protections for health providers, the type Republicans have long insisted they support.
Obamacare bailout that helps insurance companies
After promising for nearly a decade to repeal Obamacare, Republicans are now crafting a policy to bail it out, to the tune of $30 billion. If they go down this road, Republicans will not only have failed to repeal Obamacare, they will have further entrenched it. Worse still, it is unclear if this funding will be subject to full and legitimate “Hyde protections,” which would prohibit insurance companies from using bailout money to provide abortion coverage.
Restoration of the Export-Import Bank
The fate of the Ex-Im Bank has been a rare win for conservatives who fought Obama tooth and nail over bank’s corporate welfare. By keeping the bank devoid of the quorum necessary to make million-dollar loans to huge corporations like Boeing, Caterpillar and the like, conservatives have managed to keep the bank’s cronyism largely at bay. Enter the Republican majorities, who are reportedly planning to pass a provision lowering the quorum requirements for the bank to approve loans. Looks like Iran may get those taxpayer funded Boeing jets after all.
Hundreds of millions for a tunnel connecting New York and New Jersey
House Republicans have technically banned earmarks, but that hasn’t stopped them from including a $900 million fund for the Gateway Project — an underground tunnel connecting New York and New Jersey. The project, which began at a cost of $13.5 billion, has ballooned to $29.5 billion. Predictably, the states aren’t offering to cover the extra costs. Why would they, when the Republican Congress is so willing to fund one of the largest earmarks ever? (But don’t worry, earmarks are still banned.)
The biggest fight may be over a sweeping tax on internet sales.
Rep. Kristi Noem, running for Governor of South Dakota, wants her online sales tax bill attached to the omnibus. Noem’s legislation, the Remote Transactions Parity Act, is backed by President Trump and would expand the authority of states to collect sales taxes on internet purchases, reports Wong.
To gain an advantage over her primary opponent, Attorney General Marty Jackley, Noem is pushing Congress to take action before the courts do; the Supreme Court next month will hear a case brought by Jackley, South Dakota vs. Wayfair Inc., that could decide whether states can compel out-of-state online retailers to collect their sales taxes.
A new poll commissioned by the National Taxpayers Union found that 65 percent of likely 2018 voters are against the kinds of online sales tax regimes that are currently under consideration in Congress and by the Supreme Court. These represent strong majorities across party lines – Democrats, Republicans, and independents are all against new sales taxes for online purchases by more than sixty percent for every group.
So, with that in mind, you know what’s a great idea for Republicans in a midterm election year, asked Rachel Bovard? Impose a sweeping new tax that nobody likes.
Our friend Jessica Melugin, CEI’s associate director of the Center for Technology & Innovation, argues that members of Congress should listen to the people they represent and the small business owners affected, rather than the lobbyists trying to attach this harmful tax to the omnibus bill:
“Expanding sales taxes to online purchases may help state and local politicians, but it would result in a de facto tax hike on consumers. The compliance costs alone from an Internet sales tax would put small online retailers at a huge disadvantage against big box stores, and may even put some out of business, which means higher prices and fewer options for Americans who buy things online. It’s a perfect example of ‘taxation without representation’ because it allows politicians to tax sellers who have no physical presence in their city or state, and therefore, no say in the matter.”
However, it looks like House Republicans are planning to do just that by granting states new power to tax and regulate internet sales made by businesses outside their borders. This would effectively give individual states massive new taxing authorities across the country, and subject internet retailers to legal and cost compliance in the more than 12,000 taxing jurisdictions worldwide.
The legislation is opposed by nearly 20 conservative groups, but unsurprisingly, noted Bovard, that has yet to sway Republican leadership who seem intent on moving forward with the policy.
On the Senate side, Senators Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas) are leading the fight to stop the new tax.
We urge CHQ readers to call the toll-free Capitol Switchboard (1-866-220-0044) to ask for House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Tell Rep. McCarthy there should be no internet sales tax in the omnibus, no funding for Planned Parenthood, no Chuck Schumer earmark for the bloated New York – New Jersey tunnel, no insurance company Obamacare bailout and no Ex-Im bank cronyism in this year’s omnibus.