That’s a question the six Republican candidates hoping to fill the 11th Congressional District seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta) were asked during a debate Saturday.
Kerwin Swint, a political science professor at Kennesaw State University, said while conservatives like to talk about the Fair Tax, realistically it’s not going anywhere, with no movement in Congress.
Many independent analysts, Swint went on to say, from the University of Virginia to a Money Magazine study, have raised serious questions about implementing such a tax.
“Is it time to admit the Fair Tax is not all it’s cracked up to be and move on to more fertile areas of tax reform?” he asked.
Simple Tax for Pridemore
Tricia Pridemore of Marietta, the former executive director of the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development, cited the 74,000-page tax code, which is 185 times larger than it was when the 16th Amendment was adopted in 1913, allowing Congress to levy an income tax. Pridemore asked the audience of 650 to 700 people to consider what that means when residents file their taxes every year.
“We have to have tax reform in this nation. It’s essential,” Pridemore said. “Whether it’s the Fair Tax, the Flat Tax or the Simple Tax, I believe that they’re all fine alternatives to the tax system that we have now. For me, I prefer the Simple Tax.”
Col. Larry Mrozinski , U.S. Army retired, a Woodstock resident, said the Fair Tax does have support and challenged the question.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the Fair Tax is fair,” Mrozinski said.
Mrozinski said it was “capitulation” for any candidate who wouldn’t work to repeal the 16th Amendment and eliminate the IRS.
“We’re looking at another capitulation before we get to the office,” he said. “Congressman Mrozinski will advocate the repeal of the 16th Amendment and right now until something comes along better, the Fair Tax is the one to push.”
Transition plan needed, Loudermilk says
Former state Sen. Barry Loudermilk (R-Cassville) said the first move to make is eliminating the IRS. There are challenges with each tax proposal, Loudermilk said. While the Flat Tax is the simplest to transition to, with just a 10 percent across-the-board flat tax, he said the argument becomes, are certain deductions still available?
“Can we deduct charitable contributions, or what about your mortgage interest rates, can we still deduct those?’ Loudermilk said.
The biggest argument with the Flat Tax is it still leaves in place the 16th Amendment, which Loudermilk says taxes people achieving the American dream.
“The Fair Tax is complex, it has so many moving parts, and it has the prebate that’s involved with it, but the problem that we have with the Fair Tax is there’s no transition plan,” Loudermilk said.
Loudermilk describes the prebate part of the Fair Tax as government subsidizing the utility payments for the poor.
As a small business owner, Loudermilk said he can’t do a major change over in his business without some kind of transition plan.
Like Pridemore,Loudermilk is also a fan of the Simple Tax, calling it “a brilliant idea.”
State Rep. Ed Lindsey (R-Buckhead) asked conservatives in the room to raise their hand.
“That’s what I thought,” Lindsey said, seeing all the hands.
“So let’s go ahead and do the poll right now. How many of y’all believe that we as conservatives should abandon the Fair Tax, raise your hand.”
Few hands were spotted.
“That’s about what I thought,” Lindsey said. “The fact of the matter is there are independent groups and there are independent groups. And I’ve learned this over a decade in public service: a lot of independent groups are funded by one organization or another that has a vested interest in the outcome of the study, and the fact of the matter is the studies that were quoted by Professor Swint, the folks that were funding it had a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.”
Lindsey wants corporate tax rate cut
Lindsey said the Fair Tax is the best possible alternative in the long run. He also called for the repeal of the 16th Amendment.
Lowering the corporate tax rate is also needed.
“We literally have trillions of dollars sitting offshore right now because the corporations are not prepared to bring back to the United States at our present very high tax rates,” Lindsey said. “You want an incentive plan, in which we don’t have to borrow money? Bring that money back underneath the restructured corporate tax plan. In addition to that, we need to bring every one’s tax rates down to spur growth. Then we need to start looking at the Flat Tax and then finally … we don’t go to the Fair Tax until we repeal the constitutional amendment dealing with the IRS.”
Allan Levene of Kennesaw, a native of Britain and naturalized citizen, was next to take the question. Levene is also running for congressional seats in Michigan, Hawaii and until recently, Minnesota. Levene said he dropped out of the Minnesota race because of a lack of interest from the Minnesota GOP and public.
“The problem we have as I’ve said before is our government has gone insane, and they do not want to change the tax code,” Levene said. “The reason is they like to control the public. I’m a big believer in liberty. I’m a big believer in this flag and what it represents. The key is to reduce taxes and increase our GDP. If we do not increase our GDP we are in such serious trouble.”
Levene said corporate taxes shouldn’t just be lowered, but eliminated. By striking down corporate taxes, trillions of dollars of foreign corporations will bring their businesses here, he said.
“Very simply, they don’t want a tax on their profits, which means they have to invest that money,” he said. “If foreign corporations come here, they will build factories and new facilities providing an enormous increase in domestic employment, and I foresee if we do eliminate the federal corporate taxes, ladies and gentlemen, we will have more jobs than people to fill them, incomes will go up and the chronic unemployment problem that we have will go away completely.”
Status quo most powerful force in universe, Barr says
Were President Ronald Reagan in the audience, former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr of Smyrna said he would give the same answer to Swint’s question as Barr.
“Not only no, but heck no,” Barr said. “We should never, ever, ever, give up on what is right and trying to do what is right for America. Now we all know that the IRS is bad. It is bad evil. And we also know that the most powerful force in the universe is the force of the status quo. It is difficult to move a seemingly immoveable object. It is difficult to get rid of the income tax … but if we lie down and simply say, ‘Oh, the opponents of the Fair Tax have beat us down and it’s no longer viable,’ then they win. I refuse to let the liberals win. I refuse to let the status quo win. We must continue as we did back in the 1990s to continue to press forward from the grass roots on up. It’s not going to come from the top down it comes from we the people to keep the pressure on Washington, to keep the pressure on the bureaucrats, and we will get there.”