Someone who is Not A Friend of Fred Thompson (NAFFT) takes issue with my praise of his “don’t tax the internet” piece in which he reiterated “On three different occasions -1998, 2001and 2005 – Congress made a commitment to keep the Internet tax-free. We did so for a couple of different reasons.” The NAFFT says but wait, Fred wanted to ensure that states be allowed to tax the internet and moreover voted repeatedly against the same tax moratorium he now champions. The NAFFT points to a letter Fred drafted to a constituent stating: “During the Senate’s consideration of this measure, an alternative proposal was offered by Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) that would have … made permanent ban [sic] on access taxes except those in place before 1998…. Although I agree with the spirit of Senator Enzi’s proposal, I was concerned… it would have permanently banned taxes on Internet access that were not imposed before the enactment of the original moratorium.” Thompson allegedly wrote: ” I understand and share your concern about precluding states from raising revenue through means they deem appropriate. Congress must find a way, within the Constitution, to allow states and local governments to collect sales taxes on Internet and catalogue sales if they so choose.” Moreover the NAFFT says that in 1998 Thompson voted against extending the internet tax moratorium for 4 years. (S. 442, CQ Vote #305: Rejected 45-52: R 32-22; D 13-30, 10/07/98, Thompson Voted Nay) and in 2001, Thompson voted against extending the internet tax moratorium through Dec. 31, 2005.. (H.R. 1552, CQ Vote #341: Motion Agreed To 57-43: R 35-14; D 22-28; I 0-1, 11/15/01, Thompson Voted Yea). The NAFFT continues that in 2001, Thompson voted against making the internet tax moratorium permanent.. (H.R. 1836, CQ Vote #128: Motion Rejected 11-88: R 9-40; D 2-48, 5/21/01, Thompson Voted Nay)
So, where does this leave us? Well, Thompson could have written that his principles of federalism in the past precluded his support of the internet tax moratorium but he has now seen the light and understands that a national, indeed, an international communication system can’t be nickeled and dimed by states. But hey,wouldn’t that be the same argument for tort reform? Well, maybe that is a bridge too far.