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Paul Ryan talks immigration reform, taxation at Janesville town hall

By   /   April 29, 2013  /   News  /   15 Comments

UPDATED VERSION: 10:58 a.m. Clarifies the Marketplace Fairness Act does not implement a new tax.

By Ryan Ekvall | Wisconsin Reporter

JANESVILLE – While moviegoers may flock to the latest installment of the “Iron Man” franchise or the obligatory Will Smith flick this summer, Rep. Paul Ryan on Monday gave a preview of the legislative blockbusters coming soon to a Congress near you.

The Janesville Republican and former vice presidential candidate told a town hall meeting of some 75 hometown constituents that, “budget reform, pro-growth tax reform and immigration reform” will be “front and center on the front burner of Congress” this summer.

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, held a town hall listening session in his hometown Monday afternoon.

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, held a town hall listening session in his hometown Monday afternoon.

Immigration reform, as envisioned by Ryan and in the works in the House, would start with border security and enforcement, and then an E-Verify program, where employers check government records with applicant data and then report mismatches to the federal government.

Civil libertarians have argued that a mandatory E-Verify program could creep beyond its stated mission.

“Nationwide, E-Verify would create a virtual national ID and would lay the groundwork for a possible biometric national ID system, thereby imposing significant privacy and civil liberties costs on all Americans, including lawful workers, businesses, and taxpayers,” the American Civil Liberties Union wrote in a statement for a recent House Judiciary Committee hearing.

Ryan said immigration reform was pro-growth for the U.S. economy and its aging citizenry.

“You have to address the need of future flow of immigration,” he said, citing needs on Wisconsin dairy farms and seasonal work at water park capital, Wisconsin Dells.

Ryan said Congress would decide the “number of visas for a number of people in various immigration categories,” such as science visas, math visas, carpentry visas and agricultural visas.

The congressman said deportation of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States would be impossible. Instead, he said individuals residing in the U.S. illegally would face a probationary period where they would pay a fine and back taxes, learn English and U.S. civics, and “go to the back of the line” for legal residency.

He said these are “elements of a bipartisan agreement to fix immigration once and for all.”

Last week, The Chicago Sun Times reported Ryan campaigned with Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Illinois, to promote immigration reform.

On Taxation

The chairman of the House’s Committee on the Budget, widely known as a “fiscal hawk,” touted his budget plan again in Janesville, where he repeated the Republican mantra that Washington “has a spending problem, not a revenue problem.”

“We’re so far apart right now. (The Senate) want(s) massive tax and spending increases. We don’t want to raise taxes, we want to cut spending,” Ryan said of the Republican-led House.

In addition to cutting federal spending, or at least the projected growth rate of future spending, Ryan emphasized tax reform as a priority.

“Our current tax code is essentially a system of decades of decades worth of special interest groups putting special privileges in the tax system that benefit the few at the expense of higher tax rates for the many,” Ryan said.

He said overall tax rates should be lowered and loopholes – certain credits and deductions – should be removed from the tax code.

“You have so many different loopholes in the tax code that are benefited by the higher income individuals, largest corporations, and as a result everybody pays higher taxes. The problem is those who pay those higher tax rates are disproportionately the job creators in our country, like small businesses,” he said.

Ryan, however, strongly stands in support of a controversial tax, one being lobbied hard by well-connected special interests.

“To me, I think the concept is right,” the Janesville Republican said of the proposed Marketplace Fairness Act, which would allow state tax collectors the ability to compel out-of-state online and catalog retailers to collect sales tax at the time of a transaction.

Ryan says the legislation is a fairness issue.

“It’s only fair that the local brick-and-mortar retailer be treated the same as the big-box online sales company out of state,” he said. “The key is this can’t be a slippery slope used to tax other things. This can’t be a slippery slope to do other things, to make sure that we’re just having fairness for retailers in purchasing online sales.”

The Marketplace Fairness Act would not raise federal revenue.

Here’s how it would work:  If a Wisconsin resident purchases a “That 70s Show” poster from an online retailer in New Hampshire, that ‘e-tailer’ will be required to collect and remit Wisconsin sales taxes in the exchange – even though New Hampshire doesn’t impose a sales tax.

Ryan finds himself on the opposite side of Grover Norquist-led Americans for Tax Reform and the National Taxpayers Union on this issue.

The National Review editors, vehemently opposed to the Marketplace Fairness Act, recently had this to say about the legislation:

“State and local governments are engaged in an unseemly gold rush, pushing for a new Internet sales-tax regime that would empower them to wring revenues from businesses and individuals far outside their jurisdictions. They seek to overturn the foundational American presumption against taxation without representation, and they do so abetted by parasitical business interests that seek to use the tax code to hobble their more nimble online competitors. When the taxman and the National Retail Federation are on the same side of an issue, there is mischief afoot,” the opinion piece asserts.

Looking at the major lobbyists behind the tax you’ll find a partnership of strange bedfellows, linking big business, big labor and the state  – everyone from Dick’s Sporting Goods, Best Buy, Walmart,  AFL-CIO, AFCSME, American Federation of Teachers, to the National Governors Association, Government Finance Officers Association,  and the National Conference of State Legislators.

Contact Ekvall at rekvall@wisconsinreporter.com


M.D. Kittle is bureau chief of Wisconsin Watchdog and First Amendment Reporter for Watchdog.org. Kittle is a 25-year veteran of print, broadcast and online media. He is the recipient of several awards for journalism excellence from The Associated Press, Inland Press, the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association, and others. He is also a member of Investigative Reporters & Editors. Kittle's extensive series on Wisconsin's unconstitutional John Doe investigations was the basis of a 2014 documentary on Glenn Beck's TheBlaze. His work has been featured in Town Hall, Fox News, NewsMax, and other national publications, and his reporting has been cited by news outlets nationwide. Kittle is a fill-in talk show host on the Jay Weber Show and the Vicki McKenna Show in Milwaukee and Madison.

  • Jack Lohman

    Sorry guys, NOTHING is “fair” to Ryan unless it benefits his corporate contributors. Just when are we voters going to wisen up.

  • SamIamHis

    What does the internet sales tax have to do with the teachers unions? Does the 56% of my real estate property bill that goes to the schools not provide sufficient funds to give our kids a proper education? I oppose this tax on so many levels and for so many reasons. I am flabbergasted that Representative Ryan who usually a fiscal conservative is on board with this. Talk about invading states rights!

  • nowisthetime 4

    And this guy is a Republican? Their all the same… Thats it.. I’m not voting again… This is what guys like Paul Ryan do to Conservatives….. You try working your whole life… Paul.. at something more than just pushing a pen or being adored by your constituents… and showing up to lunches and dinners in Washington and the State Capital… Try working Hard Physical Labor Paul… and then see if your BS goes down so easy.. why, its “only fair” You make me Sick..

  • Jack Lohman

    Not voting is just what they want, then they can control us even more. No, the trick is “vote all incumbents OUT.” If enough of us do that we can save democracy.

  • Franseenit

    Are you serious? It’s about time this sales tax issue is resolved. I have had to compete with online purchasing for 25+ years. The irony of it is that they want me to install their stuff and when it is defective I should resolve the problem for them. Years later they still want me to fix their stuff because they no longer have an online business to deal with. If they had to pay their JUST sales tax in the first place it would eliminate many issues for businesses who must make something on the sale of items they install. It is the most fair way to solve this sales tax issue. A number of states already require the online sellers to collect sales tax. It’s also called JOB CREATION!

  • norinepeardon

    Are you kidding…another tax. Forget it!, Most of the many, many taxes which exist now have no fairness at all behind them but they cost of us MONEY !

  • disqus_hQ19w3VLjt

    Vote Constitution or Libertarian parties. The D’s and R’s stopped representing us long ago.

  • Jack Lohman

    I agree with the sentiment but not the tactic. Third parties do not have a chance. I would like to have seen a strong progressive run as a center-left candidate.

  • Scott

    It has nothing to do with being fair, and everything to do with collecting more revenue for the states. It would be fair if brick and mortar stores were also required to collect taxes from out of town customers at that customers home tax rate and then remit the sales tax back to that state. But in reality there are probably thousands of different tax rates in the country, and figuring out what to tax each individual customer would add undue costs, which would be in turn transferred back to the customer as a higher price.

    Also many states require a use tax on online sales, it’s just not enforced that often. Wisconsin is one of those states, from Wisconsin Dept. of Revenue:

    “Use tax is the counterpart of sales tax. Use tax must be paid when Wisconsin sales tax (state, county, and stadium) is not charged and no exemption applies. If you purchase taxable items from retailers who do not collect Wisconsin sales tax or bring taxable items into Wisconsin from other states or foreign countries, you owe use tax.”

  • Jack Lohman

    Most certainly I agree with “fair” taxes, but not Ryan’s that have been bought and paid for by the moneyed interests. Let’s first get rid of the moneyed politicians.

  • Franseenit

    If you are from Wisconsin you are supposed to be paying this tax – tallying it up through the year and including it on your Wisconsin Income Tax form – are you saying that you don’t???

  • Roy

    Yeah Fran, I certainly don’t.

    If I read and understand correctly, anything I buy elsewhere and bring back to Wisconsin I am expected to pay use tax on, no matter if I paid sales tax in the state where purchased. They (any and all taxing authorities) can eff themselves if they think that will ever happen. If they think they can get it from me, let them come and try. Gosh, what a rebel I am. 🙂

  • Roy


  • The problem with voting for a constitution or libertarian is that the one I have herd speak don’t know how government works, i.e. close down the federal reserve, go back to the gold standard or do away with federal agencies. They also don’t know the constitution well enough to know how to follow it.

  • Franseenit

    When you make online purchases! Time to educate yourself.