Legislative Lowdown: The secret plan to raise your taxes

Brian Darling | Former staffer for Sen. Rand Paul and founder of Liberty Government Affairs

Republicans are secretly negotiating with Democrats to raise your taxes after the election.

“A dozen senators ranging from Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn to Delaware Democrat Chris Coons have begun to organize closed-door briefings with leading economic experts to prod Congress into action,” Politico reports.

Evidently these leading experts include Robert Zoellick of the World Bank and William Dudley, president of the New York Fed. These guys are experts in fear-mongering. Unfortunately, members of Congress, motivated by fear, will likely cut a terrible deal for the taxpayer.

Congress is taking action to address “the year-end fiscal cliff” set up by the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, cuts to defense spending, a possible debt ceiling hike and a scheduled Obamacare tax increase. Details are scarce, but we know these squishy members want a deal after the elections so they can feel free to violate Americans for Tax Reform’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge not to vote for tax hikes.

Members of Congress will also want to increase the borrowing ceiling of the federal government after the elections, because they fear the power of the tea party to push for spending cuts in lieu of just cranking up the printing press before an election. Conservatives hope that conservatives such as Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) will scuttle any bipartisan deals to increase the federal government’s borrowing limit while taking more money out of the private sector to fund bloated federal spending.

Cravaack saves armed pilots program

Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-Minn.) passed an amendment last week to an appropriations bill to increase funding for the Federal Flight Deck Officer program (FFDO), better know as the Armed Pilots Program. The program was created after 9/11 in order to prevent another 9/11-style terrorist attack. Cravaack has saved it from anti-gun Obama administration officials who wanted to bleed the program dry of money.

The administration budget cut the program in half. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano publicly stated at a House hearing earlier this year that she does not see the armed pilots program as necessary to aviation security. Napolitano has blocked the program from training new pilots and has continued policies that deter pilots from volunteering for it.

Fortunately, Congress has rejected yet another terrible idea from the Obama administration by restoring funding and increasing resources for this critical national security program.

E.U. tries to levy aviation tax on U.S. planes

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) wrote an op-ed for The Daily Caller this week arguing that European airline tax efforts are an affront to American sovereignty. Thune wrote about a new tax being levied by the European Union in violation of the constitutional mandate that all tax increases originate in the U.S. House of Representatives. This idea is unconstitutional and violates the sovereign rights of Americans.

“As of the first of the year,” Thune wrote, “the E.U. now includes aviation in its so-called E.U. Emissions Trading System. Practically speaking, this means U.S. airlines and passengers will be forced to pay a climate change tax for flights originating in or destined for the E.U.” Thune is correct in arguing that “the E.U. has no authority to impose a tax on Americans flying in American or other non-E.U. international airspace.”

Congress should ground this international tax idea.

Fixing the farm bill

The Senate has commenced a debate on another bloated federal program: the farm bill. The Senate is expected to debate this idea for the next few weeks. The bill, S. 3240, redistributes your tax dollars to agricultural interests, maintains welfare programs at bloated levels and does nothing to remove a mandate that increases ethanol production. Heritage Action for America is against the Senate version of the bill, which is expected to cost $969 billion over the next 10 years.

One of the bill’s most offensive provisions expands the “shallow-loss” program. This program is expected to funnel more than $60 billion over the next five years to wealthy farmers, according to research conducted by the American Enterprise Institute.

The food stamp program is another problem area in this bill. Participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) is at record-high levels. According to Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and CBO data, food stamps usage has jumped 260 percent since 2000. The farm bill does not reform this program.

Conservatives are hoping the House version of the farm bill contains cuts to the bloat and starts the process of moving the agriculture sector away from subsidies and toward a true free market.

Brian Darling is the senior fellow for government studies at The Heritage Foundation (heritage.org).

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