Friday Lightning Round: Internet sales tax bill

Panel sums up this week's hot topics


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," April 26, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, HOST: Every week we ask you to vote in our Friday lightning round.  This week we'll cover two topics you voted for. First, the Internet sales tax bill. We are back with the panel. Steve?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I think the biggest concern of this bill is that would give authority to tax across state lines in an unprecedented way and could lead to a bureaucratic nightmare for small businesses. Once you open that door action you'll have small businesses online that will have to comply with as many as 9,000 different taxing authorities and try to resolve disputes, try to make sure that those taxing authorities get their payments. The slippery slope argument in this case I think is a pretty convincing one.

BAIER: It's been delayed a bit. But it's moving forward in Congress, Juan.

JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE HILL: Yes. And I think it's going to pass. You'd have to at this point, you have to have people turn their votes around in order to defeat it. It doesn't look like the president said he's going to sign on.  So I think it's going to happen. The question is, you know, I think for lots of Republicans in the House, is this a tax hike and there being assured by Dick Durbin on the Democratic side that it's simply enforcing existing taxes. If that's the case, I think that that opposition might melt away, because you have local retailers who say, how can we compete with these guys online, because we have to charge taxes and they don't?

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: The argument of whether it is a tax increase or not is angels on the head of a pin. You could argue it either way. The real issue here is the fairness argument, that if you're an old-fashioned store, you have to have your customers and you pay the sales tax and online you don't, which you're already at a disadvantage if you're an old-fashioned store. You have to cover rent. You have to cover insurance, and all that.  So I think you want to have something that will level the playing field.

You can do it one of two ways -- abolish all sales taxes for real stores and nobody pays, or you get the Internet people to pay the sales tax as well. I think the second is the only way to do it, obviously. But I would agree with Steve. This should be a big carve-out for small and start-ups, small business on the Internet and start-ups, otherwise you will never get them. The regulations will crush them.

BAIER: It could be a legal issue as well, fought in courts. Next topic is the president speaking to Planned Parenthood today.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: After decades of progress, there are still those who want to turn back the clock to policies more suited to the 1950s than 21st century. And they've been involved in an orchestrated and historic effort to roll back basic rights when weather it comes to women's health.


BAIER: Catholic Association issued a statement soon after that, saying, quote, "It is outrageous that president Obama addressed the Planned Parenthood gathering this morning at a time when Planned Parenthood have been exposed for having known about the Gosnell horrors, yet took no action to report this abuse of women and babies." Obviously Gosnell is the abortion doctor in Philadelphia. Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: I think it is an outrage. I think it's outrageous how Obama acted years ago when he was in Illinois when three times he voted against a bill that would make infanticide illegal, which you think would be illegal, in the case of a live birthing in an abortion. So this is all consistent, this is all extreme. This is extremism on abortion. This is a country that needs respect for each side and looking for some way to satisfy the two arguments which are deeply entrenched. I think there are ways to do it. Obama is doing the exact opposite, and I think it's cynical as a way to win a constituency for himself and for his Democratic successors.

BAIER: Juan?

WILLIAMS: Well, I think he has every right to speak to Planned Parenthood. Not only is it in terms of the law a right to support abortion rights in this country, I think you're looking at a politician who says, these folks -- he said it literally in the speech -- these folks helped him pass the Affordable Health Care Act. The mobilized, they organized, they're totally in support of it. The president sees preventive care as an essential element of what Planned Parenthood does. It's not simply about abortion.

KRAUTHAMMER: Infanticide is not women's health care.

WILLIAMS: No one is talking about infanticide. Is that what you're saying --


KRAUTHAMMER: That's what the Gosnell trial is all about.

WILLIAMS: That's Gosnell. That's not Planned Parenthood.


HAYES: The entire discussion right now in the country is about Gosnell on abortion, is about the Gosnell trial. You've had people make comments on the prochoice side on the Planned Parenthood side about it being an outrage. And I think the fact that the president would go and address Planned Parenthood in the context of this national discussion about something like the Gosnell trial and fail to mention is a profound act of moral cowardice.

WILLIAMS: I think Gosnell is a butcher --

HAYES: I give you credit for saying that, why couldn't the president say that?

WILLIAMS: But what does that have to do with Planned Parenthood? This is a celebration of Planned Parenthood.

HAYES: For one thing, Planned Parenthood representative in Florida testifying before the Florida House couldn't bring herself to denounce what was happening in Gosnell or things like Gosnell when she was asked directly about it.

WILLIAMS: I think Gosnell has been so politicized it's now being used to attack people who are prochoice. I don't see it has anything to do with the president speaking to Planned Parenthood.

HAYES: All politics aside, the president should be able to say it's not OK to kill babies.

BAIER: This isn't rolling thunder, it's lightning.

Quickly, FAA, furloughs, and the House voting today to move the money around. It's going to the president's desk.  He hasn't signed it yet.

HAYES: The president loses. He wanted the big sequester reversal and he didn't get it.

BAIER: Juan?

WILLIAMS: If you're rich in this country, you can get Congress to change its tune.

KRAUTHAMMER: It's the correction of an idiocy that was overdue and it showed the president's cynicism in trying to get people to turn against Republicans over this was a failure.

BAIER: That is it for the panel.

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