Lamar Alexander and the Internet Tax

Right now, there is a movement in Congress to ban Internet-only taxes, meaning you won’t be asked to pay tax on e-mail or Internet access. It is a movement that makes sense, because it opens the door wide for the government to take more and cut less, not to mention give the government yet another in-road to regulating Internet use. Enter Lamar Alexander, who is about as liberal as it gets when it comes to the issue of fiscal policy.

Alexander, who apparently didn’t pay attention during his high school civics class, says that Congress has no right to interfere with the states’ abilities to levy taxes. This is, he says, a matter of federalism, meaning that his grasp of the concept is on par with his grasp of what being a Republican entails*. Via the Wall Street Journal:

[mc_name name=’Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’A000360′ ] (R., Tenn.) is leading the Senate dead-enders who are once again holding hostage the popular ban on Internet-only taxes. The House has passed a permanent ban several times, most recently as part of a larger customs bill. But Mr. Alexander and friends are blocking Senate action until Congress also votes on a more controversial measure to give state and local governments more authority to force out-of-state merchants to collect online sales taxes.

Sen. Alexander tells us that his opposition to the Internet Tax Freedom Act is a “simple matter of federalism,” and that it’s “none of Washington’s business” whether states and localities want to apply new taxes online. The Senator is mis-defining federalism to justify more taxing.

Alexander could not be more wrong in his reasoning because, as the WSJ says, the Internet is pretty much the definition of interstate commerce – you can buy or sell anything from and to anywhere – and interstate commerce is firmly established in this country from the Constitution (see Article 1, Section 8), through several Supreme Court decisions, and on through the modern day.

The Senator from Tennessee is flat out lying to the American people when he says putting a stop to the Internet freedom movement is a matter of federalism, and he should be called out on it by a lot more than just the Wall Street Journal. Alexander won his last Republican primary with less than 50% of the vote, meaning more than half of Republican voters in the state thought he wasn’t the best choice for the job. Tennessee deserves better, and in 2020 should try its best to get it.