Thursday, December 13, 2007

Huckaboom to Huckabust

OK, the bloom is off the rose. The intial infatuation has passed. I have come to my senses, and I am officially jumping off the Huckabee bandwagon. I'm not sure if it was the AIDS quarantine statement from '92 (which might would have been an appropiate thing to suggest in '82), or the "innocent" question about Mormon theology this past week, or the commutation of 1000+ criminal sentences in Arkansas, or the fact that the FairTax is a completely unworkable idea (and don't tell me I don't understand it--I own the FairTax Book). But it has finally dawned on me that I don't think Mike Huckabee has what it takes to really BE president. I hate to admit it, but if this guy were just a mainline protestant layman, he wouldn't be attractive to me at all. The fact that he seems to be a genuine, Bible-believing Southern Baptist is great. And that's why he has the support he does. I think the GOP ignores that part of their coalition (say, by nominating Giuliani) at their own peril. But it takes more than shared values to make you my candidate. Some of the greatest people in my own church congregation, who I would trust with my life, my kids' lives--I wouldn't trust them to manage a lemonade stand, much less the executive branch during wartime. So, adios, Mike.

That begs the question, "then, who?" I'm back to thinking I can best see Romney actually doing the job of president. But if Huck's support winds up falling in with Thompson, I could still easily go his way, too. Even McCain doesn't strike me too badly (although he's ancient and crotchety). We'll have to see where things lie by the SC primary. But it ain't Huck.


MichaelPolutta said...

Please do a post on the Fair Tax, what is good about it, what is bad about it, and why you think it is unworkable. I'd really appreciate knowing your perspective on this.

Coach Sal said...

The short version is that the FairTax would completely end all taxes on income (including FICA) and replace the revenue with a consumption tax. The tax is alternatively presented as 23% or 30%. It would make an item that costs $100 cost $130, but $30 is only 23% of the $130. The biggest thing is that the $100 item you buy now already includes in the cost of the item all the various taxes that are imbedded (like the corporate income tax the manufacturer pays). In theory, prices would drop to the actual cost (less embedded taxes) of goods and services, so adjusting them back up by 23% would not hurt so bad. This would mean that rather than being taxed on income, including what you save and invest, you would only be taxed on consumption. This would encourage thrift, saving, and investing, and broaden the investor class. To avoid the tax being regressive, the government would mail a monthly "prebate" check to each family that would represent the amount of tax paid on purchases up to a certain subsistence level. So in theory, a poor family that only bought necessities would have zero effective tax burden.

All that sounds great, but it requires, first of all, that every state have a way of taxing every purchase made, public or private. It also assumes that the vendors will drop prices to match their actual costs at current profit margins. And it further assumes that a vast majority of people wouldn't just do business under the table tax-free. None of those seem very likely to me. Also, most FairTax advocates say they'd like to repeal the 16th amendment to close off the possibility of the income tax coming back IN ADDITION to the sales tax. As a history guy, let me just say that's very, very unlikely. "Putting the IRS out of business" sounds great in a sound-bite, but the reality is a good bit more complicated than that.

bekster said...

If you're taking requests, I would like to see a breakdown with pros and cons of all the major GOP candidates. Basically, for the mostly ignorant voter, what is the most important stuff to know?

MichaelPolutta said...

Perhaps I'm remembering the book incorrectly - but I thought the Fair Tax only taxed sales by actual businesses - not private sales.

I think that, over (not very much) time, the prices would fall basically back to where they were as the embedded taxes work their way out of the system. Ya gotta love free market capitalism.

Honestly, I don't think this would make the black market any bigger than it is.

I would choose the Fair Tax over any other approach I am aware of.

Philip Murphy said...

OK, my mind is still thinking about the Fairtax. Maybe I'll have a decent reply in a couple of weeks after I sort out the whole prebate issue. Abolishing the IRS is about like the junior high kid claiming if you elect him class president he'll give the students recess all day.

Totally off topic.

I've searched and searched... I swear you had a blog asking if anyone has ever met a jerk of a mormon. maybe the post was deleted. maybe i dreamed it. Assuming you had one posted, it was great. I've been thinking about it for weeks.

I finally met a jerk Mormon. Lawyers tend to bring out the best in people, though. (insert sarcasm here.)

I also got to thinking... I've never met a jerk homosexual... a jerk Chinese... or a jerk Walmart greeter. But I'm not sure I'd vote for a Gay Walmart Employee named Ji.... but i'd bet he'd smile a lot.