Presidential Campaigns Urge New Taxes on Internet Sales

Last fall, now-presumptive Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton said “she supported allowing cities and states to tax online purchases” though Reuters noted at the time “she would not mandate it.” Her position mirrors that of the Senate-passed Marketplace Fairness Act, which would allow states to impose taxes on online sales in a way that favors their local businesses over out-of-state firms that have no representation in the taxing state.

Yesterday, presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump appeared to embrace Clinton’s position on the internet sales tax, telling radio host Hugh Hewitt “…that Amazon doesn’t pay tax. … And a lot of people think Amazon should be paying tax, and they’re not, and they’re destroying department stores and retailing all over the country…”

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Zika: Conservatives should be prepared to hold the line

Since last week, the House and Senate have been engaged in formal conference committee negotiations over the chambers’ respective Zika response and MilCon-VA packages. Reports indicate the the final compromise product could come this week, and the House already has a vote scheduled.

To recap: The House bill (H.R. 5243) contained $622 million in fully-offset fund transfers to combat Zika, while the Senate bill (H.R. 2577) contained $1.1 billion, none of which was offset, and which included their FY17 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill. The chambers went to conference using H.R. 2577 as the vehicle, and the House, as part of H.Res.751, included the combined text of their Zika response, MilCon-VA bill (H.R. 4974), and the Zika Vector Control Act (H.R. 897). As such, the conference agreement will likely produce compromise legislation covering both Zika and MilCon-VA.

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“Countering Violent Extremism” Bill is Wrong Response to Orlando Terrorist Attack

In the wake of the Islamic terrorist attack in Orlando that left 49 people dead and 53 injured, Americans expect a strong and serious Congressional response to make our country safer and help prevent future attacks. Today, the House will vote on H.R. 5471, the Countering Terrorist Radicalization Act. Unfortunately, the bill is neither a serious response nor will it help make our country safer.

The bill is actually a combination of three previously passed bills. The main provision (H.R. 4401) perpetuates the failed and misguided strategy of “Countering Violent Extremism” (CVE) as an approach to fighting terrorism. The Heritage Foundation’s Robin Simcox explains the purpose of CVE in his recent article The Unmentionable Origins of Terrorism:  

There has been a concerted attempt to scrub any religious aspect from the actions of ISIS and al-Qaeda: That is why phrases like “violent extremism” even exist. (First mainstreamed by the British government, “violent extremism” was dreamed up as a way to avoid saying “Islamic” or “Islamist” extremism in the months after the July 2005 suicide bombings in London. The phrase swiftly traveled across the Atlantic and into the U.S. government’s vocabulary.)”

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Presidential Campaigns Overreach on Guns

Yesterday, presumptive Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton welcomed presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump “to the cause” of placing additional restrictions on Americans’ Second Amendment rights. While Trump’s tweet was light on policy — and his campaign declined to provide specifics — it was widely viewed as an endorsement of the types of restrictions President Obama, Congressional Democrats and Michael Bloomberg support.

“The rush to eliminate due process rights is alarming,” Heritage Action’s chief executive officer Michael A. Needham said. “Responsible presidential nominees should lead the nation in a conversation about what types of counterterrorism measures are effective, but restricting firearm access by presuming guilt is not one of them. Americans deserve real leadership on the issue of Islamist terrorism, not made for TV sound bites intended to erode our constitutional rights.”

Earlier this week, The Heritage Foundation’s James Jay Carafano explained that “Restricting Americans’ access to firearms has never been on the list of any responsible counterterrorism agenda” because it’s not an “efficacious responsible measure.”

Additional Reading:
Heritage: The Terrorist Watch List, Explained

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Forcing American Daughters into the Selective Service

Background: In January 2013, then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta directed the military services to review policies with the goal of integrating women into all combat roles by January 2016. On December 3, 2015, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter confirmed the decision without exception, and directed that all gender-based requirements for military service be removed by January 3, 2016. This order came despite military evaluations that raised concerns on this issue.

The decision to allow women to serve in all combat units has sparked a debate on whether women should be required to register for the Selective Service, making them eligible for conscription if Congress reinstates the draft for future military needs.

Forcing women to register for the draft a premature conclusion: Leading up to the decision to open all combat positions to women, evaluations raised questions about the effectiveness of mixed gender units in ground combat tasks. According to an extensive 9-month Marine Corps’ Gender Integration Task Force study, which evaluated mixed gender units in 134 combat training activities, all-male units outperformed mixed units in 69 percent of the tasks while mixed units outperformed male units in just 2 tasks.

Additional evidence from the Marine Corps evaluation showed that women had an injury rate twice that of men when performing combat-related tasks. The increased risk of injury could threaten their personal safety as well as the safety of their fellow soldiers in combat situations.

Supporting equality does not require forcing women to register for the draft: Conservatives believe women and men have equal natural rights, and equality means that law should treat things that are the same in the same ways. But when it comes to combat-related tasks, there are differences between men and women that are relevant to accomplishing the military mission.

According to former Marine Corps servicewoman and current Sentinel Jude Eden, “Combat is not an equal opportunity for women because they don’t have an equal opportunity to survive.” If women’s increased risk of injury makes them more vulnerable when engaging the enemy, why would Congress ever want to require women to be registered for the Selective Service, and ultimately the draft?

Women can and do contribute significantly to the overall mission of the military. But military personnel policy, particularly when it comes to combat, should be determined based on military objectives and preparedness, not President Obama’s social agenda.

Conclusion: Congress should prohibit the drafting of our daughters into military services through the Selective Service. The Conference Committee is set to resolve the differences between the Senate’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2017 (S. 2943), which currently includes a provision forcing women ages 18-26 to sign up for the Selective Service, and the House’s NDAA (H.R. 4909), which does not. Congress should strip out the provision forcing women into the draft by adopting the House’s bill in Conference Committee.

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