I consider it a complete, thorough waste of time and energy to pass the FairTax, as its currently written.
There is one simple reason: there is no super-majority requirement to raise the tax rate in the future. If the currently-drafted FairTax is passed, the US Congress will be able to raise the tax rate -- constantly, forever -- through a simple majority vote.
FairTax supporters talk about a national sales tax rate of 23%. Fine. But it's delusional to think that this tax rate won't increase, and over a very short amount of time.
Again: it's entirely unreasonable to assume that politicians won't raise the sales tax rate, and quickly.
Neal Boortz, a FairTax supporter, asked "What Happened to the FairTax?" on a "Contract from America" offered by the Tea Party Patriots group. But Boortz answers his own question, by listing the Tea Party group's "Contract," in which the first goal mentioned is this: "DEMAND A BALANCED BUDGET: Begin the Constitutional amendment process to require a balanced budget with a two-thirds majority needed for any tax hike."
The Tea Party Patriots remind us of another important hold-out within the FairTax: there is no balanced-budget amendment included within the FairTax legislation. Rather than cut wasteful spending, the US Congress will continue to be able to pass on unnecessary debt to future generations, again through a simple majority vote.
I do not oppose the FairTax, and I do oppose the current "system" of taxation. I say "system" because it's not a system, but rather something that is rigged in favor of government. It's manipulative, burdensome, and confusing. It's all-around-bad for Americans. Yes, we definitely need to change -- no, overhaul -- the current tax code.
But it's not "change" to remove one really bad tax code, in order to replace it with another really bad tax code.
The "fuel" of government is money -- our money. It's too easy for Washington to get our money. And when they run out of our money and don't have the votes to increase taxes, it's too easy for Washington to spend our grandchildren's money.
Regardless of the form of taxation, we need a Constitutional amendment that requires the support of a super-majority of Congress before taxes are increased. We also need a balanced budget amendment: a Constitutional amendment that requires the support of a super-majority of Congress before the national debt is increased (I'm fine with some sort of "war-time exemption," if necessary, though we should be prepared for that also to be abused).
I do want a major change to the current income tax. Frankly, I'm indifferent to a flat tax or a national sales tax -- one or the other, not both, of course.
Again, I don't oppose the main premises of the FairTax. Rather, I do oppose participating in pointless causes. It takes an enormous effort to successfully change the US Constitution.
And so I must ask: Why should conservatives spend the time, money, and political capital in order to pass the FairTax Constitutional amendment, but NOT also include a super-majority "plank" to increase the tax rate? In my firm opinion, there is no good answer to that question.
I respect anybody who wants to volunteer their time and money for a political cause. Therefore, I'm not going to tell FairTax folks, "Stop your efforts."
What I am saying is that I firmly believe the currently-drafted FairTax, if passed, would result in a "no-net change" for Americans, after just a few decades. It's a waste of time to spend huge amounts of political capital on something that won't change a thing.
Ramesh Ponnuru wrote in March 2010:
"Over time, wouldn't it become just as riddled with exemptions and loopholes as the income tax is? Or as existing state sales taxes are? Or more so: How hard is it to imagine Congress adopting different tax rates for recyclable and non-recyclable products? And wouldn't the FairTax be at least as easy for politicians to raise as the income tax?"
With all the research that has been presented by FairTax supporters to defend the idea that a national sales tax is superior to an income tax, and when FairTax supporters appropriately understand that politicians use and change the tax code in a manner that is hostile to freedom, I'm befuddled why they haven't formally recognized that future politicians will also increase (and manipulate with exemptions) a national sales tax.
Connect with Benjamin Hodge at Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, The Kansas Progress, and LibertyLinked. Hodge is President of the State and Local Reform Group of Kansas. He served as one of seven at-large trustees at Johnson County Community College from 2005-’09, a member of the Kansas House from 2007-’08, a delegate to the Kansas Republican Party from 2009-’10, and was founder of the Overland Park Republican Party in 2011. His public policy record is recognized by Americans for Prosperity, the Kansas Association of Broadcasters, the Kansas Press Association, the Kansas Sunshine Coalition for Open Government, the NRA, Kansans for Life, and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).