Issue 475, September 22, 2006
Corporate tax revenues hit all-time high
On Monday the Treasury Department announced that third quarter corporate tax receipts hit an all-time high at $85.5 billion. The record revenue number is 20 percent higher than receipts from the same quarter last year. This reflects stronger than expected profits for American corporations and will likely shrink the projected budget deficit for 2006. Liberals continue to oppose efforts to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, despite consistent indications that they have encouraged economic growth, which, in turn, has resulted in increased tax revenue for the government. This week's announcement is good news for the economy, and I'm hopeful it will jumpstart the stalled efforts to provide continued tax relief for hardworking Americans.
House votes to strengthen election integrity
On Wednesday, the House passed H.R. 4844, the Federal Election Integrity Act of 2006. The bill seeks to implement common sense improvements to federal elections by requiring voters to verify their identity at the polls with a valid photo ID. Current laws rely largely on the honor system and have resulted in numerous incidents of voter fraud. This bill requires states to check voters' photo ID by the 2008 general election. It also requires states to pay for identification cards for voters that can't afford it, and authorizes federal funding to reimburse states for such expenses. These changes would strengthen the integrity of our voting system, and they deserve consideration in the Senate yet this year.
House passes bill to combat border tunneling
On Monday, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced the discovery of a 400 foot underground tunnel used to smuggle drugs across the U.S.-Mexican border. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent Miguel Unzueta told the media, "Whether they are designed to smuggle drugs, people, weapons or other contraband, these tunnels pose a threat to our nation's security." He's right, and this isn't the first tunnel that our agents have discovered. On Thursday, the House passed a bill to address this threat to our security. The bill would enact penalties of up to 20 years in prison for knowingly constructing or financing the construction of an unauthorized tunnel across a U.S. international border. In addition, individuals who recklessly permit the construction of such a tunnel on their property would be eligible for up to ten years in prison.
Terrorist surveillance bill moves forward
On Wednesday, two House committees approved legislation authored by Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) to revise the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and grant the executive branch more authority to track the communications of suspected terrorists. Wilson is confident that her bill can be passed in the House this year, but negotiations with the Senate remain stalled. Her legislation increases from three to five, the number of days that the administration can conduct emergency surveillance. After that, approval would be needed from the FISA court. The bill also provides greater latitude for the administration in the event of an "imminent attack." It also requires the administration to share information about the nature of the suspected plots with Congress.
Quote of the Week
"If you walked down any street in the country and asked people what a secret hold was, my guess is they might think it was a hairspray."
- Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), referring to a Senate rule that allows any Senator to anonymously block a piece of legislation. The procedure is known as placing "a hold" on the legislation.