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The People Must Demand the Fair Tax

September 3, 2007

Last year, during the United States Senate race in Nebraska, Republican challenger Pete Ricketts suggested that every option must be considered when looking at ways to reform our federal tax system. Among the list of alternatives Ricketts said should be on the table was a national sales tax known simply as the "Fair Tax."

The Democrat incumbent, U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson, launched an attack on his opponent that was, at best, distorted and condescending, and at worst, irrational demagoguery. One would have thought that Ricketts had suggested stealing all the assets of the poor and handing them over to Warren Buffet and Bill Gates.

Recently, the panel of pundits on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," discussing the apparent rise in popularity of former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign message, scoffed at Huckabee's unabashed promotion of the Fair Tax.

George Will, the token "conservative" on the panel, brushed it aside with the disbelief of an elitist who cannot understand the burden of the average worker who would love to take home his or her entire paycheck, as the Fair Tax would allow him or her to do. Will opined that Huckabee's second place showing in the Iowa straw poll was even more amazing given the fact that "he supported a national sales tax of thirty percent, which means that if you buy a one million dollar house, you'll be writing a check to the government for three hundred thousand dollars." Of course, the others on the panel readily agreed.

The elites of this country, who buy those million-dollar homes, are not enamored with the Fair Tax. They would be if they took the time to understand its appeal.

The Fair Tax would replace all federal income taxes. No more federal withholding. No more Social Security withholding. No more Medicare withholding. No more stealing from the paychecks of American workers before they even see it and then pretending to give them a refund, without interest, at the end of the year. No more saving receipts for tax deductions. No more IRS audits. No more April 15th.

Instead, the Fair Tax would put us in control. All consumer items would be taxed. Business purchases would not. By allowing us to make the determination about what we buy and when we buy it, the ability of our legislators to manipulate our behavior is eliminated. That is why the elites don't like it. They can't control the public's spending habits under such a system.

The current federal tax system is broken. It cannot be fixed. Since the inception of the federal income tax with the passage of the 16th Amendment in 1913, federal corruption and control have turned it into a Frankenstein monster that torments the people and serves the special interests. A tax on a person's income is a tax on production, and as Ronald Reagan once said, "Whatever you tax, you get less of."

Because the poor are forced to spend a disproportionate percentage of their resources to cover the tax on necessities, the Fair Tax hits them the hardest. That issue can be addressed by simply issuing a "prebate" check each month to every household in the country. Unlike disingenuous tax credits, deductions, exemptions and other loopholes in the current income tax code, a prebate check is a clean, honest method of covering the sales tax on food, clothing and shelter - up to the poverty level.

Of course, removing the income tax on corporations will reduce the cost of everything we buy, since corporations don't pay taxes. They simply pass them along to consumers. The Fair Tax plan calculates that removing the corporate income tax will result in a reduction in the cost of virtually every consumer item on the market. In fact, it will just about offset the tax on those products. Imagine paying the same price for something but having your entire paycheck to buy it.

And then there are the billions of dollars that flow untaxed through our economy today: drug dealers, prostitutes, pornographers, foreign tourists. Imagine how much revenue could be raised simply by taxing the things those people consume.

There would be no more audits, no more justifying deductions, and April 15th would become just another spring day. But only if the people stand up to the elites and demand it.

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Copyright ©2007 Doug Patton

Doug Patton describes himself as a recovering political speechwriter who agrees with himself more often than not. His weekly columns are syndicated by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. Readers are encouraged to email him at dpatton@cagle.comand/or to follow him on Twitter at @Doug_Patton.