- The Washington Times - Monday, April 14, 2014

The reliable, maneuverable, and yes, quite fabulous A-10 Thunderbolt has protected many in its close-air support role since it was introduced in 1975. Now the formidable Air Force gunship is getting a little protection of its own on Capitol Hill. Behold, now in flight, it’s the unofficial A-10 Caucus, composed of squadron of Republicans and a single Democrat.

“There is a group — small, so far — that opposes an Air Force plan to retire its aging A-10 attack planes later this decade to help its budget fit within spending caps. It includes some influential senators and at least one who has some sway on the House Appropriations defense subcommittee,” said John T. Bennett, an analyst for Defense News.

“It might be easy to dismiss the emerging A-10 caucus as too small and powerless. But there are reasons to think this group might be able to find a way to offset the price of keeping the A-10s flying — and twist just enough arms to get its plan passed in both 2015 defense bills,” he said.

The Thunderbolt guardians: Republican Sens. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John McCain of Arizona, Jim Risch of Idaho plus Reps. Vicky Hartzler of Missouri, Jack Kingston and Austin Scott, both of Georgia. The Democrat is Rep. Ron Barber of Arizona. Mr. Graham in particular has a strong reason to keep the A-10 “Warthog” flying until the F-35A comes along.

“The Taliban hates the A-10. That’s good enough for me,” the lawmaker notes.

The Air Force has essentially pulled the plug on future A-10 operations beginning October 1. Mrs. Ayotte and Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Georgia Republican, now say the plan is “illegal,” citing the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, which bars the Air Force from retiring the aircraft during the 2014 calendar year.

A TALE OF LOST TAX REFORM

“Too complex, too confusing, too costly.” Those are the three main problems with the U.S. tax code according to House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. David Camp. The Michigan Republican introduced the Tax Reform Act of 2014 in late February, and conducted more than 30 congressional hearings on the subject. But the legislation appears to have come and gone without much hubbub, accompanied by a few press reports that Republicans were not keen on the act, which was three years in the making. So is it gone, as in poof? No. For the curious, the legislation can be found here: Tax.house.gov

The lawmaker himself, meanwhile, is currently in Afghanistan visiting U.S. troops, as part of a Republican delegation that includes House Speaker John Boehner, Reps. John Kline of Minnesota, and five other congressmen. Mr. Camp is not seeking re-election; his chairmanship will likely go to Wisconsin colleague Rep. Paul Ryan, currently in profile-boosting mode, as are other potential GOP White House hopefuls.

“Unfortunately, the recent release of a comprehensive tax reform plan by Dave Camp has received a lukewarm welcome from both sides of the aisle, largely due to a lack of political appetite in an election year,” observes Pinar Cebi Wilber, a senior economist for the American Council for Capital Formation and an analyst for the Financial Advisor.

“Rightly, Camp’s tax reform proposal aims to simplify the tax code and grow the economy. So this unapologetically detailed and comprehensive plan may be the launching pad for any serious tax reform discussion in the coming years,” she observes.

THE ATTKISSON TRAJECTORY

She resigned from CBS News on March 10 with a five-word tweet. That would be one Sharyl Attkisson, who cited liberal bias at the network and has now put the finishing touches on a new book entitled “Stonewalled: One Reporter’s Fight for Truth in Obama’s Washington” — which will be published on November 4, Election Day.

Because it is an election year, logic dictates that the Emmy-winning investigative journalist is going to surface on another network sooner rather than later. But which one?

“Given the resume, the rare objectivity, the reputation, and the trophy shelf, she won’t be a free agent for very long,” says Mediaite columnist Joe Concha, who suggests four likely options.

ABC News is one, having lost at least five competent correspondents to other networks in recent days. Fox News is kind of a given; Ms. Attkisson has appeared there twice in the last week. CNN, which is ramping up its coverage and adding some journalistic muscle as 2014 gets underway, is also a possibility. And last but not least, NBC could be a home for Ms. Attkisson, with an extra flourish.

She is “not the worst idea as a replacement host of ‘Meet the Press’ if the rumors around replacing David Gregory actually come to fruition,” Mr. Concha says.

TAX DAY DITTY

“How would I live without filing taxes,

What would I do with my free time?

Where would I go on a beautiful Sunday?

Good thing I won’t have to make up my mind.”

— Lyrics to the Libertarian Party’s seasonal song to express the “tax-filing blues,” sung by party political director Carla Howell. The video is here: lp.org

TAX DAY WATCHDOG

Just in time, perhaps? A bristling new Tax Analysis Center will be launched right at the U.S., Capitol at high noon on Tuesday by its director Laurence Kotlikoff, National Center for Policy Analysis CEO John C. Goodman and William W. Beach, chief economist for the Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee.

The trio come armed with a new study that reveals, wonder of wonders, that lowering the U.S. corporate tax rate would create an “immediate and significant impact on the American economy and would benefit all workers, whether young or old, skilled or unskilled.”

See their research here: Taxanalysiscenter.org

OBAMACARE ALLEGORY

“Meet Sylvia Burwell, the Titanic’s new captain. She’ll have a tough time keeping Obamacare afloat,” says David Catron, a health care revenue analyst for the American Spectator, speaking of the incoming secretary of health and human services.

“Can we really expect Burwell to impose some sanity to the implementation Obamacare in her capacity of HHS secretary? The obvious answer to that question is no,” Mr. Catron explains. “This is why even the mainstream media has faced the fact that Burwell will have a very tough confirmation hearing in the Senate. John McCain’s premature endorsement notwithstanding, most observers expect the Republicans to press her very hard on a variety of issues relating to Obamacare.”

POLL DU JOUR

54 percent of Americans say the federal income tax they pay is “fair”; 46 percent of Republicans, 51 percent of independents and 69 percent of Democrats agree.

52 percent overall say the amount of income tax they pay is “too high”; 57 percent of Republicans, 58 percent of independents and 37 percent of Democrats agree.

42 percent overall say the tax is “about right”; 38 percent of Republicans, 36 percent of independents and 55 percent of Democrats agree.

41 percent overall say the tax is “not fair”; 49 percent of Republicans, 44 percent of independents and 28 percent of Democrats agree.

3 percent overall say the tax is “too low”; 1 percent of Republicans, 3 percent of independents and 5 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Gallup poll of 1,026 U.S. adults conducted April 3-6.

Litanies, ditties, flight plans to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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