Morning Action: Getting the Truth About Benghazi is Like Pulling Teeth
BENGHAZI. The White House’s disinformation campaign on Benghazi has continued for nine months, and we still do not know for sure what happened:
Dramatic hearings are expected today as Gregory Hicks, a State Department official who was on the ground in Libya during the 9/11 attack when four Americans died, talks to a House panel.
Hicks’s testimony follows a House Republican Conference report and a detailed article on the “Benghazi Talking Points” in The Weekly Standard that further call into question the credibility of the Obama Administration’s response.
What is becoming increasingly clear is that (1) the Administration bungled security before the incident; (2) the response to the assault was disjointed and inadequate; and (3) the Administration made a consistent and considerable effort to hide these facts.
The timeline still does not add up.
OBAMACARE. Obamacare is so complex and burdensome that complying with the law will consume nearly 190 million hours per year:
The GOP reached that total by adding together the compliance burden in each regulation implementing part of the healthcare law.
They said the annual burden to comply with ObamaCare is enough time to build Mount Rushmore more than 1,500 times over, or to build the Empire State Building 27 times.
DINNER DATE. President Obama has recently chosen to dine and golf with Republicans on a number of occasions, but he’ll be having dinner with some fellow Democrats this week:
There was a bipartisan round of golf on Monday and now President Obama plans to have dinner Wednesday night with top House Democrats.
Obama plans to head back to the Jefferson Hotel — the site of other recent congressional dinners — to break bread with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her leadership team, the White House announced late Tuesday.
KEYSTONE. In light of numerous favorable environmental reviews by the State Department for the Keystone XL pipeline, one lawmaker is acting to ensure that Keystone is approved at long last:
Representative Lee Terry (R–NE) has introduced the Northern Route Approval Act, which would approve the Keystone XL pipeline by deeming the State Department’s first environmental review as satisfying all requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R–VA) announced that the House will vote on the bill this month.
The act is important for several other reasons. Even if President Obama grants Keystone XL the presidential permit, environmental activists adamantly opposed to the project will almost certainly bring legal challenges to delay or prevent the pipeline’s construction. Terry’s bipartisan bill, which has 36 co-sponsors, would limit these challenges by creating a 60-day deadline for filing a claim.
INTERNET SALES TAX. The Senate has passed the misnamed Marketplace Fairness Act. Heritage explains why this was a bad move and why there will be more opposition in the House:
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.
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.