Mike Huckabee opened his show last night with a call to implement the flat tax. With his folksy, avuncular tone, Huckabee took a mean-spirited swipe at lower earners: "Each April 15, I’m reminded just how different this day would be if we would implement the fair tax. The fair tax would not raise or lower our current taxes but it would change the way that we collect taxes from the current system of punishing productivity and rewarding irresponsibility."
You got that? If you don’t earn a lot of money and are in a lower income tax bracket, you’re irresponsible.
Then we would pay taxes when we consume something. We would pay tax when we buy something, not when we earn something. You know, since everybody buys things, we’d all be paying something. It would mean that drug dealers and prostitutes, pimps and gamblers would be paying their own taxes instead of you having to pay your fair share as well as their fair share.
Again, Huckabee is slyly suggesting that those who don’t pay federal taxes are moochers at best, criminals at worst. But here’s what he didn’t mention: everybody pays taxes, including drug dealers, prostitutes, pimps and gamblers. They pay sales taxes, property taxes, fuel tax, cigarette tax, hotel tax… you probably get the picture.
And you wouldn’t be punished for work as income tax would be abolished. You wouldn’t be punished for saving, investing or leaving something behind for your kids. You could throw away that little shoe box full of receipts and slips of paper because you wouldn’t file taxes. You’d just enjoy April 15 as another beautiful spring day.
Except that some people would probably be enjoying that spring day more than others. From FactCheck.org:
(The Fair Tax) will collect more money from those earning between $15,000 and $200,000 per year and less from those earning more than $200,000 per year.
Or to put it another way: while Huckabee would be paying less tax, most everyone watching him would be paying more. Don’t you think he should have disclosed that little factoid? Instead, Huckabee actively covered it up. He said that because rich people “buy more expensive things, they’d pay more. That’s fair.”
Except that poorer people spend more of their income on “things” than rich people. The Brookings Institution calculates that whether you classify households by annual income or consumption level, households at the very top would get a tax cut of about $75,000.
Here’s another factoid Huckabee left out. The hike in sales tax (which is, essentially what the “fair tax” is) would make the cost of everything go up. In its 2007 article, FactCheck calculated:
At today’s prices, gasoline would cost almost $1 per gallon more. A $150,000 new home would run $195,000 – plus the 30 percent tax that the buyer would pay on the interest on the mortgage.
I don’t mind a host advocating for the so-called Fair Tax. But he should at least be honest about what he’s advocating for and not paint a distorted picture of its outcome – while hiding how it benefits himself so nicely at the expense of others. That’s no fair at all.