- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Consider that April 15 will dawn in a mere 144 hours, punctuated by the sound of rustling tax records and the gnashing of teeth. Some are preparing for this. Americans for Tax Reform, in fact, has organized, well, a tax conference at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday featuring a half-dozen financially-minded Republican lawmakers and an agenda that includes IRS “abuse of conservative nonprofit groups,” among many things.

“Every April 15 we file our national income tax returns with the IRS. The past few years have seen unprecedented abuses by the IRS and an Obama administration that at first reacted like Captain Renault in ‘Casablanca’ — shocked, shocked — that politics was going on in the IRS,” Grover Norquist, president of the nonpartisan coalition, tells Inside the Beltway.

“Now the administration is working to enact an executive order locking in what they once told us were unacceptable abuses. Chicago politics has arrived in Washington D.C. and nested comfortably in the Internal Revenue Service,” he says.

On hand to go over the finer points in the Capitol Visitor Center: Sens. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Rob Portman of Ohio and Pat Roberts of Kansas, plus House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp of Michigan, along with Reps. Kevin Brady of Texas and Aaron Shock of Illinois.

The gents will also examine “IRS implementation of Obamacare, a tax extender package and IRS waste of taxpayer funds,” a spokesman says, plus Mr. Camp’s draft “Tax Reform Act of 2014” which the lawmaker claims will create 1.8 million new private sector jobs and allow most tax filers to get the lowest possible tax rate by simply claiming the standard deduction. No fussing with itemization and receipts.

See Mr. Camp’s opus here at tax.house.gov

PARSING THE CHEATING LAWMAKER

In the political realm, the cheating cad is better than the dubious schemer, at least in theory.

“American voters dislike a politician who abuses official power more than an elected official caught in an extramarital affair,” reports Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, which asked 1,536 registered voters their opinion on such matters from March 26-31.

“Voters clearly see a difference between personal and official scandals. Committing adultery is far less damaging to a politician than abusing their office,” Mr. Malloy observes.

And the numbers: the favorability rating of an adulterous lawmaker was 36 percent — compared to 22 percent for the elected official who abused their power. Another 39 percent would re-elected the romantically erring official, compared to 24 percent who would re-elect the power-abusing lawmaker.

THE GREAT CLINTON TOUR

It’s colossal. It’s stupendous. And it could be worth a cool $1 million. Now underway, it’s Hillary Rodham Clinton’s four-day West Coast speaking tour that includes stops in San Francisco, Portland, Las Vegas, San Diego and San Jose through Friday. Each stop could bring in a reported $200,000-250,000 in speaking fees as the former first lady/senator/secretary of state stands before corporate audiences and talks about health care and scrap-metal reclamation, among other things.

“It’s only fitting that Hillary Clinton would kick off her West Coast tour in the liberal bastion of San Francisco. Instead of answering questions about her troubled record at the State Department — which includes Benghazi and the failed Obama-Clinton Russian reset — Clinton is opting to hang out at high-dollar speaking engagements,” declares Republican National Committee spokesman Jahan Wilcox.

Just wait, though. There’s more coming.

Don’t forget Mrs. Clinton has a new book arriving June 1 from Simon & Schuster. At 688 pages, it’s a whopper. Strangely enough, it has no title yet, only billed as “Hillary Rodham Clinton New Memoir” by the publisher, an extraordinary phenomenon since the book is just 52 days from publication. Analysts speculate that the title will hinge on whether or not Mrs. Clinton decides to run for the White House. The publisher reveals this small tidbit, though: the book will offer the author’s “candid reflections about key moments during her time as Secretary of State and thoughts about how to navigate the challenges of the 21st century.”

As the sages say, the mystery deepens.

NOT SO FAST

There is news, meanwhile, from Stop Hillary PAC, a political action committee founded nine months ago that is not too keen on the idea of Mrs. Clinton becoming president. The organization now has the endorsement of at least two congressman — Republican. Reps. Matt Salmon of Arizona and Steve Stockman of Texas.

“The scariest part is this. Hillary is even closer to the presidency now than when she was living in the White House,” Mr. Salmon says in a public outreach for Stop Hillary released Tuesday.

“The public’s interest in stopping Hillary has been increasing since January, so have our donations,” spokesman Garrett Marquis tells The Beltway. “Bottom line, as Hillary Clinton continues to promote herself and raise her political profile across the country our supporters are becoming more engaged, active, and vocal.”

A TAXING MOMENT

All right, brace for a lot of math.

State government tax revenue increased by 6.1 percent over fiscal year 2012 to a record $846.2 billion in 2013, reports the U.S. Census Bureau, an upward trend for the third year in a row. Forty-eight states saw an increase; big winners were North Dakota, with an increase of 27.8 percent, California (15.6 percent), Hawaii (10.5 percent) and Colorado (9.6 percent). Alaska and Wyoming were the sole states with a decrease.

Of note: Total state government tax revenue on individual income was $309.6 billion for 2013, up 10.3 percent. General sales tax revenue rose to $254.7 billion for 2013, up 3.9 percent from 2012. Corporate-tax revenue increased to $45.0 billion for 2013, up 7.9 percent. Those three sources comprise 72 percent of all state government tax collections nationally, the federal agency says.

And one more thing. States with the largest percentage increase in tax revenue from individual income taxes were North Dakota (48.4 percent), Tennessee (44.2 percent), California (21.4 percent), and New Hampshire (also 21.4 percent).

A MOMENT WITH MEGYN AND SHERYL

A Fox News moment to consider: Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly will sit down with Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg on Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET. There will be much talk about equal pay and “female empowerment,” the network says.

Also on the talking points list: Ms. Sandberg's “Ban Bossy” campaign, which literally proposes banning the word “bossy” as a way to empower young girls. Though the idea has some celebrity endorsements and support from the Girl Scouts, it has garnered mixed reviews.

POLL DU JOUR

69 percent of Americans say members of Congress are “paid too much”; 67 percent of Republicans, 65 percent of Democrats and 73 percent of independents agree.

16 percent say they are paid “the right amount”; 24 percent of Republicans, 17 percent of Democrats and 11 percent of independents agree.

59 percent say a person can maintain a residence in Washington, DC and another city for $174,000 a year. 60 percent of Republicans, 60 percent of Democrats and 57 percent of independents agree.

38 percent say “the president” is paid too much; 46 percent of Republicans, 27 percent of Democrats and 43 percent of independents agree.

39 percent say he is paid the right amount; 40 percent of Republicans, 41 percent of Democrats and 36 percent of independents agree.

Source: A YouGov poll of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted April 4-6.

Cat calls and doggerel to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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