Press: The Republic (4/22/11)

Washcall: Internet taxation – Women’s History Museum


WASHINGTON – The gaping chasms that are state budget deficits may become the black hole of Internet taxation this year, drawing Congress and some states inexorably into instituting taxes on what you purchase online.

That’s what some analysts expect, viewing the nation’s dismal fiscal balance sheets, which are a powerful lure for a piece of the $188 billion in online retail sales forecast for 2011.

Though taxes may be a toxic topic for lawmakers, especially with the 2012 elections looming, supporters of online taxes portray the issue as one of fairness: Why should out-of-state companies such as and enjoy the unfair advantage of selling products cheaper than the bricks-and-mortar store down the block, which often has to collect local and state taxes on each purchase?

That’s the rationale for the Main Street Fairness Act, a measure that Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., one of the most liberal members of the chamber, is expected to introduce shortly. Sen. Mike Enzi, a fierce Republican from Wyoming, is likely to co-sponsor it.

Look for Walmart, Target and other merchants with actual stores to lobby hard for Durbin’s measure, while eBay, Yahoo and iTunes to mobilize to kill it.

Supporters of a National Women’s History Museum are trying again to get permission from Congress to buy a federally owned plot of land on the edge of the National Mall.

No taxpayer money will be used to create the estimated $50 million museum, which was first brought to Capitol Hill last year, supporters say. What they do need is Congress’ permission to buy a plot of unused land close to the Mall.

A cast of entertainment heavyweights is backing the endeavor, including country singers Trisha Yearwood, Garth Brooks and Lee Ann Womack. The museum’s official spokesperson is actor Meryl Streep, who has personally pledged $1 million to the cause.

Last year, the House and Senate approved the purchase. But later, two GOP senators — Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma — put a hold on the measure, saying such a museum was unneeded.

There are already 100 museums that chronicle women’s history, Coburn has said, including the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Texas and the Quilters Hall of Fame in Indiana.

Two museum-bill sponsors, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, reintroduced the measure this month.

A much-anticipated Pentagon report on whether the rule barring women from direct combat units should be modified or overturned has missed its deadline.

Scheduled to be delivered to Congress on April 15, the report is now slated to hit Capitol Hill on Oct. 1. At least part of the reason for the delay is to shield the report from becoming a political hand grenade during the battle over the 2012 defense budget, which is expected to be fierce.

Virtually all soundings from the Pentagon brass — with the exception of some in the Marine Corps — is that the doors of war will be opened further for women in uniform, who have been in the thick of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

At last count, more than 259,000 women troops have served in those conflicts. The casualty count: 137 killed and 1,758 wounded.

Printed in The Republic – 4/22/2011

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