Brian McNicoll

Andrew Moylan of R Street says members of Congress — right, left, and center — who value their electoral health should steer clear of the Marketplace Fairness Act. It polls poorly in all groups as Americans realize this is just another way to prop up inefficient businesses at the expense of the general welfare.

Here are some facts on the MFA from CEI Adjunct Scholar Jessica Melugin.

And here is the R Street press release on the poll:

new poll released today by the R Street Institute and National Taxpayers Union found strong opposition across the board to new Internet sales tax legislation like the so-called “Marketplace Fairness Act. Conducted a month after a Gallup poll that found 57% opposed to the concept, the new R Street-NTU poll also found 57% against with just 35% in favor. Politico covered the poll this morning, a story I pasted below.

In addition to a 22 point margin against the law overall, conservatives particularly despise it. Self-described Republicans oppose it by a 38.5 point margin, those self-identified as voting for Republicans oppose it by a 39.2 point margin, and self-identified conservatives by a 37.5 point margin. A separate survey of likely GOP primary voters found that they’re more likely by a 53.6 point margin to vote for a candidate that opposes that bill than one who supports it.

But it’s not just conservatives that dislike the bill. Key swing demographics that any politician needs in order to create winning coalitions also oppose it. Suburban voters dislike it by a 21.5 point spread, women under 40 by 12.8 points, and independents by 19.6. Even Democrats and self-identified liberals oppose the bill, by a 5.1 and 1.8 point margin respectively. And when we tested messages in favor of and in opposition to the bill, voters side with anti-MFA arguments much more strongly. The margins ranged between 32 and 35 points against it, or roughly 2:1 against.

The Marketplace Fairness Act is bad policy because it would unwisely allow states to expand their tax and audit authority across their borders, impose serious compliance burdens on businesses that sell online, and allow for the imposition of a decidedly “unlevel” playing field by requiring different collection standards for sales made online vs. in-store. Turns out that the bill is awful politics as well.

Months ago, I wrote that conservatives should “run, not walk” away from the bill. These new poll results suggest that moderates and liberals should follow them too, if they value elective office.

There are a lot of things Republicans can do to get themselves primaried these days, but embracing comprehensive immigration reform does not seem to be one of them.

A survey taken earlier this month of voters who have a history of voting in Republican primary elections found those “who support comprehensive immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship, do not run afoul of the majority opinion of their primary voters,” the survey oufit said. “That is true in every region of the country, and in suburban and rural districts alike. It is true with Tea Party voters, social conservatives, fiscal conservatives and moderate Republicans … as well.”

Here are the findings:

–Nearly four in five think the system is broken and something must be done to fix it. That includes 75.4 percent of the Tea Party supporters polled as well as 78 percent of those who watch FOX News daily.

–More than 70 percent support something along the lines of the Gang of 8 proposal.

–Nearly 73 percent support a pathway to citizenship, even though nearly 90 percent believe comprehensive legislation won’t lead to increased border security.

–More than 70 percent support increased legal immigration for those with advanced degrees or skills in math, science, engineering or technology.

–Nearly 57 percent support increasing the number of low-skilled immigrants allowed to enter to work in agriculture, construction and service industries.

The surveyors said about one in five GOP primary voters oppose most elements of immigration reform. “This minority tends to be vocal, but their level of activism should not be confused with the size of their numbers. The large majority of primary voters see a badly broken immigration system and want it fixed. Most Republicans are willing to support a pathway to U.S. citizenship, provided that several conditions are met, including criminal background checks, learning English, paying fines and waiting a period of years.”

In other words, the legislation the Senate approved could use some fixes – elimination of E-Verify tops on the list – but it is not that far from what Republican voters say they want.

Gov. Scott Walker “can deny that he wanted to weaken public sector unions, but whatever his motivation, that’s what has happened.”

Thus concluded an eye-opening recent op-ed in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Wisconsin’s leading newspaper.

And it is true. Since paying union dues became a value judgment by workers rather than a mandatory part of holding a government job in Wisconsin, membership in public-sector unions there has plummeted. The newspaper found membership has declined by 50 percent at some unions and even more at others.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees District Council 48, which represents city and county workers in Milwaukee, went from 9,000 members and an income of more than $7 million per year in 2010 to 3,500 members and a deep deficit by the end of last year.

The Wisconsin law required workers to contribute 5.8 percent of their pay to their own pensions and to pay 12.6 percent of their healthcare costs – both figures are about half what private-sector workers are expected to provide.

As CEI Vice President Iain Murray pointed out in his book, “Stealing You Blind,” public employees still get a good bargain. Teachers in Wisconsin earned $49,580 per year on average in 2011 – substantially better than the state’s average personal income of $37,398. Teachers also received more than $26,000 in health insurance, retirement benefits and other insurance benefits.

A two-teacher family – not at all uncommon in the state or elsewhere – therefore was receiving upwards of $150,000 per year from taxpayers for working 9-month jobs.

In other words, the deal they were and are getting from the state was pretty good without union involvement, and, as yet, the unions have not found a way to otherwise demonstrate they do anything worthy of the compulsory contributions that were eliminated in Gov. Walker’s legislation.

And despite the noisy protests that marred debate on the legislation in February 2011 – the sick-outs conducted by teachers, the disruption at the capitol in Madison, the escape by legislators to Illinois to foil quorum and delay the vote – the idea has proven to be a political winner.

Not only did Gov. Walker fend off a recall attempt – he won by a bigger margin the second time around than he had when originally elected – but his political stock has risen substantially. And today comes news that both Walker and Republican candidates for the state legislature are doing quite nicely in the fundraising department. Lege candidates are outraising Democrats, Dems are scrambling to even find a candidate to oppose Walker, and 80 percent of Walker’s $30 million campaign haul has come from small donors.

Today, the Competitive Enterprise Institute signed on to a letter with taxpayer groups and other public policy organizations that urges Congress to act on corporate tax reform. “High taxes on businesses hinder job creation, drive up costs and make America less competitive,” said Iain Murray, vice president of strategy at CEI. “Today, the United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world. This seems incongruous with rebuilding our economy.”

The letter can be viewed here.

Welcome to the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s live blog of President Barack Obama’s 2013 State of the Union address. Tune in here on Tuesday night at 8:30 p.m. for the real-time free-market/libertarian take on the speech.

So now we’re down to safe v. healthy. The “safe” approach to riding a bike is to wear a helmet, according to the Nanny Statists in cities from coast to coast. But it turns out a lot of people won’t ride bikes if it means buying and wearing a helmet. It also turns out helmets don’t actually prevent a lot of injuries. As this story from The New York Times reveals, these days, officials in cities that want to promote bike riding have realized it might be better to accept a little more risk from letting riders go helmet-less than insisting on the helmet and forcing many riders to the sidelines.