Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson smiles during an interview with The Associated Press in his home in Upperco, Md., Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

 

I have always had the sense that the Ben Carson campaign was a promotional vehicle to raise his profile on the book writing/lecture circuit so that he could enjoy a more comfortable retirement. Not a bad gig if you can get it, and I understand that it’s worked out great for the pocketbook of many a Presidential “candidate” before Ben Carson.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective) for Carson, this happened to be the year that Republican voters were willing to consider literally anyone who’d never held elected office before, even if that meant that they had to not look too closely at who they were supporting. So, against all expectations, Ben Carson found himself raking in donations and being asked to answer actual questions about actual policies.

One of the first things a Republican Presidential candidate should figure out is his tax plan, or at least the broad outlines thereof. Republicans tend to be finely attuned to taxes as a political issue, understanding the incredible destructive power of taxation and the relationship between good tax policy and sound economic growth.

However, as the days, weeks, and months of Ben Carson’s campaign dragged on, nary a word of Ben Carson’s ideas on taxes reached the public. Carson declared his candidacy on May 4, 2015 – but by the time the second debate rolled around in Mid-September he was still forced to say, on live TV, that he didn’t know what his tax plan would look like and that he would have to study the issue and get back to the American public.

Well, I guess three and a half months was enough for Ben Carson to study the issue and to release his tax plan – which turns out to be the flat tax plan already created by other people:

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson on Monday unveiled a tax plan that would overhaul the current system in favor of a flat tax, a policy announcement that came as the retired neurosurgeon struggled to shift attention away from mass resignations within his campaign.

The plan, which Carson announced during an interview on Fox News, would tax individuals and corporations alike at 14.9 percent and would eliminate tax deductions and loopholes.

Carson has long supported a flat tax — which he regularly compares to religious tithing on the stump — but had not released a detailed proposal for overhauling the system before Monday. The plan, which the campaign gave Fox News exclusively, was not immediately made available to other media organizations.

I am at a total loss as to why it took Ben Carson 8 months to come up with a tax plan if all he was going to do was basically regurgitate a tax plan that is a) almost exclusively appealing because it of its extraordinary simplicity and b) already conceived of and written by someone else.

It is especially jarring when the release of this plan is designed to detract attention from the ongoing implosion of Carson’s campaign organization. It feels, like everything else associated with Carson’s campaign, like a tacked-on effort that is designed to just barely cross the minimum expected effort threshold.

I hope that if this cycle continues, Carson will have the decency to bow out once the votes finally start being counted.