Scott Brown: Tourism, No!

Well, here's one I'll have to ask the junior Senator's office about in the morning. Late today, the Senate passed the Travel Promotion Act, which is intended to promote international tourism to the US. It passed, with Republicans pretty evenly split -- and Scott Brown voted among the 18 all-GOP "Nos."

Senate President Harry Reid has been pitching it as a jobs bill -- of course, lots of those jobs would be in his home state of Nevada, which has been running low on free-spending European jet-setters. Some people around the world, apparently, have gotten the crazy idea that foreigners coming into America might be greeted by torture-rendition squads at the airports and trigger-happy backyard-militiamen at border crossings.

So this bill, which passed the House last fall, would create a non-profit corporation, through a public-private partnership, to reassure people that they are truly welcome and wanted, and help walk them through the somewhat more complicated process that travel might entail these days, so that they will come visit the US and spend their fancy money at Caesar's Palace, or Fenway Park, or the Cape, or whatnot.

The House version was introduced by our very own Congressman Bill Delahunt.

"Fannie Travel," as Senator Jim "Socialism Is Coming!" DeMint described this idea last fall. I think he means something bad by that. The all-powerful conservative Club for Growth called it "The Dumb Travel Promotion Act." The Heritage Foundation and others also oppose it.

Their main objection is that the bill -- which, incidentally, the CBO says would reduce the deficit by $425 million over the next ten years, and which will create an estimated 250,000+ jobs -- would cover costs through a new $10 fee on those tourists coming into the country. DeMint and others apparently consider this a tax, and even though it only applies to foreigners, that apparently violates the sacred "no new taxes" conservative pinkie-swear promise.

I guess Scott Brown does too. Or, perhaps he hates foreigners coming to America, I don't know. But even though 20 Republicans voted Yes with the Democrats to pass the bill (and two did not vote), Brown voted against cloture and against the bill -- along with the most conservative members of the Senate. I'll see if his office can explain why tomorrow.

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