There have been attack ads against candidates who support the FairTax in at least 19 races this year. As a result today’s Wall Street-Journal is prematurely blaming the FairTax for the tightening and possible loss of some of these races. I think it is unfair to blame the FairTax for much of the tightening in these polls. Many other races don’t have the FairTax as an issue and are also tightening as typically occurs when we near Election Day.
For those of you who don’t already know, the FairTax is a revenue neutral tax reform proposal that would replace most forms of federal taxation with a single rate consumption tax on new goods and services. Despite the fact that people would not be paying federal taxes on income, investments, or savings Republican’s who have come out in favor of the proposal are being disingenuously attacked by their opponents for wanting to put a new 23% sales tax on everything you buy. Numerous outlets including PolitiFact.com and FactCheck.org have correctly criticized these attack ads as being completely misleading.
There is a lot of grassroots support for the FairTax especially in some of the southern states such as Georgia and Florida where Republican candidates won’t even make it out the primary gate unless they support the FairTax. This is largely due to the presence of libertarian radio talk show Neal Boortz, who along with Congressman John Linder wrote “The FairTax Book” as well as “FairTax: The Truth: Answering the Critics.”
Mike Huckabee during his Presidential campaign also ran heavily on the FairTax especially in Iowa where he surprised everyone with a second place showing at the Iowa Straw poll and overshadowed Mitt Romney’s first place showing. Many of the pundits attributed this surprise showing to his unwavering support of the FairTax.
This is partially why I disagree that proposing a legitimate bold idea like the FairTax should be avoided. Simply avoiding an issue because someone might run misleading ads against is a cop out. The public now more than ever wants to hear conservatives and libertarians talking about new, innovative, and bold ideas. We continually hear from liberals that conservatives just want to say “no” to everything and have no new ideas (ie. Health Care). We need conservatives and libertarians who are willing to take a stand and be able to explain and defend some big ideas like Paul Ryan and his “A Roadmap for America’s Future.”
We need more idea oriented conservatives in Washington that are willing to take chances and support bold reforms like the FairTax, and not just accept so-called conservatives who stand for little and fall for anything just to get elected and re-elected. Whether you support the FairTax, Flat Tax, Henry George’s land value tax, or no tax at all we should support conservatives who are willing to stand up for bold ideas.
(In the interest of full disclosure, I served and National Press Coordinator for Americans for Taxation the national grassroots organization that advocated for the FairTax from 2006-2007.)