The Free Press, Mankato, MN


June 16, 2013

Obama, Congress must explain NSA work


However, mandatory public disclosure remains the unrealized goal of a bipartisan Senate bill which seeks to set up a free, searchable Medicare-payment database.

Doctors should stop resisting the transparency movement and join it. After all, their profession is founded on a belief in free inquiry and the unhindered flow of useful information.

Washington Post

Why the Marketplace Fairness Act is ... fair

A bill that would require the collection of sales taxes due for online purchases sailed through the U.S. Senate in a 69-27 vote in May, but it faces tougher going in the House.

The Marketplace Fairness Act would require virtual merchants to collect sales taxes just as their Main Street rivals do. It would bring equity to a marketplace now tilted against brick-and-mortar retailers.

Online sellers enjoy an unfair advantage now because they’re not required to charge for state and local taxes. Their customers are supposed to pay the tax to their states, but rarely do so.

Some House members oppose the bill because they say it amounts to a tax increase — that sounds like an argument against any effort to clamp down on illegal tax avoidance. The tax already exists, the obligation to pay it already exists. But the tax isn’t being collected by some merchants.

Online merchants complain that it would be burdensome for them to calculate the many different local tax rates and remit money to the states.

That argument was more compelling at the dawn of e-commerce — when cellphones were still dumb and this Internet thing was an iffy proposition.

It’s time for the House to move on this. Online businesses will adjust to the new landscape in no time. Every merchant should be treated equally when it comes to collecting sales tax, no matter where and how they operate.

Text Only | Photo Reprints