You can’t accuse Fox News of ever missing an opportunity to exploit a news story. On Saturday's Bulls and Bears (5/18/13), the pretext was the IRS scandal. Host Brenda Buttner didn’t waste any time. “IRS SOS, as the scandals keep sizzling,” she said to open the show. She suggested to asked regular Gary B. Smith, “Shut down the IRS as we know it and replace it with a flat tax, what do you say?”
Smith replied, “Absolutely Brenda. This would be the most positive thing we’ve seen for this economy I think since the internet. This would be unbelievable. I can’t see any minuses to this, but look at all the benefits. One, we get rid of the IRS which means we get rid of these IRS scandals dating back probably before President Nixon… We save literally billions on productivity, we raise more revenue. …They can’t pass it quickly enough.”
Buttner asked panelist Jonas Max Ferris about mortgage and charitable deductions. “Would that really get rid of the IRS?”
Ferris answered, “No, because the complexity is in the deductions and the exemptions and all of the little corporate little things you can set up to avoid taxes. …Watching the entire hearing on the Fox Business Network, I started to feel bad for the IRS. It is not their fault they’re put in this position. Congress made the ridiculous tax code that they have to enforce. They’re merely accounting police, and then they (Congressmembers) get to grandstand. …It’s a mess, and going to a flat tax doesn’t make it simpler.”
“Well sure it does,” Tobin Smith jumped in. “I don’t know what Jonas is smoking today but if you look at the actual numbers and when you take the flat tax and bring it in over a 5-10 year time period, Gary is absolutely right. …We would probably have Dow 25,000 instead of 15,000 simply because earnings would be higher, growth rates would be higher. …All people would participate in paying taxes, just not 20% of the people.”
Democrat Steve Murphy said, “We need the IRS because you could cheat on a flat tax too. …I don’t think any of the proponents, including you two, who are talking about a flat tax mean a real flat tax. You mean you want to reduce income tax rates for the wealthy. …What about a flat tax that taxes all income the same?”
Gary Smith said, “Yes.”
Tobin Smith agreed, “I’m in.”
Buttner said, “They don’t have the political courage to do this.”
She didn’t point out that “courage” includes throwing who knows how many thousands out of work.
John Layfield said, “This flat tax is right. You’ve got to take this IRS out of the question. What they have done the last few years is absolutely criminal.”
Buttner jumped on the “criminal” aspect and was joined by Tobin Smith.
Actually, the IRS was not criminal and they didn’t target conservative groups. As Dave Edwards at Crooks and Liars pointed out:
All that happened here is that groups applying to the IRS for special tax status were checked to see if they were engaged in political activity. They were checked, not targeted. Only one-third of the groups checked were conservative groups.
…According to the (Inspector General’s) report, the swamped IRS group involved in this came up with ways – “criteria” – to identify groups that really needed to be checked further because it was possible they might be engaged in the kind of political activity that would exclude them from getting the special tax status. (The rules for what constitutes political activity that would keep a group for getting special tax status are, to say the least, not clear…) Some groups were chosen to receive the required scrutiny because they had “political-sounding” names. Some of the “political-sounding names” included the words “tea party.” Others included “We the People” and “Take Back the Country.” (The inspector general’s report does not disclose if or which other “political sounding names” were also used as criteria.)
Murphy should have rebutted the falsehoods and hyperbole.