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Despite polling data showing that Americans are more concerned about the jobs situation, most Members of Congress seem to be convinced that the federal deficit will be the top issue in the fast-approaching mid-term elections. The House and Senate recently stripped billions in aid for states from their mini-stimulus bill, and they're even struggling to pass an extension of unemployment insurance benefits, typically the least controversial form of stimulus spending.

Last week, a few House Democrats proposed a solution for helping states deal with their budget shortfalls without increasing the federal deficit. Rep. Bill Delahunt [D, MA-10] introduced a bill, co-sponsored by 4 other Dems, that they are calling the "Main Street Fairness Act." The bill would allow states to require online retailers and other mail order businesses to collect and remit sales taxes. According to Delahunt, states are expected to lose about $18.6 billion in sales taxes to internet retailers this year, and by 2012 they are expected to lose $23 billion annually.

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