In Pa.-12, dirty politics as usual

Ken Hoagland Chairman, Restore America's Voice
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National Democratic Party officials now say the special election to fill John Murtha’s seat in Pennysvania’s 12th Congressional district foretells election outcomes this fall. Whether true or not, it was also a sordid tale that reflects tactics that make obvious a fundamental contempt for the American public.

When non-partisan FactCheck.org found that television campaign ads run by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on behalf of former John Murtha aide Mark Critz were deceptive the DCCC decided to buy twice as many of the same ads. The DCCC ads for Mr. Critz claimed that his opponent, Tim Burns, favored raising taxes by 23 percent on all items for consumption.

This escalation by the DCCC was a calculated response to Republican Burns repudiation of his interest in the FairTax, a national sales tax to replace all federal taxes on income. The FairTax, like other issues increasingly embraced by grassroots America to control government spending and powerful special interests, ran straight into Washington disdain for the best interests of the American people.

The deceptive attack ads “forgot” to mention that the FairTax replaces the income tax, the capital gains tax, the Social Security and Medicare tax, the corporate tax, the death tax, the marriage penalty, the Alternative Minimum tax, or for that matter, the $310 billion we all spent last year on tax paperwork. They forgot to mention that taxing consumption brings the $1.5 trillion a year in the “underground economy” into the tax base, that millions of illegal immigrants become taxpayers as consumers or that the FairTax monthly “prebate” entirely untaxes the poor and allows a middle-class family of four more than $29,000 of federal tax free spending a year.

In the face of this attack the disappointing advice to Mr. Burns from his supporters in Washington was to drop the FairTax. He did. That inside-the-Beltway advice reflected the usual D.C. view of the FairTax but was wholly out of touch with the virtue and record of standing his ground on the issue against a backhanded defense of the corrupted income tax system.

Eighty economists have written to Congress and the White House that the FairTax, with $22 million of peer-reviewed research behind it, is the best federal tax system to create a new era of American economic growth. By taxing what comes out of the economy—consumption—instead of what makes the economy grow—work, savings and investment—the tax base is dramatically expanded and every worker takes home paychecks free of all federal withholding and payroll taxes. And foreign investment, estimated in the $10 trillion range, comes, upon enactment, rushing into the American economy creating needed jobs.

But the benefits to the nation and every taxpayer are not enough to easily overcome Washington insider’s lucrative self-interest in an income tax system that allows Congress to play politics with the nation’s wealth. The FairTax breaks a lot of “rice bowls” inside Washington and more and more voeters appreciate that fact. It eliminates the rampant corruption of the income tax code that sees 2-3 loopholes sold off every day Congress is in session and the $1.5 billion a year income tax lobby industry. It makes visible the cost of the federal government on every sales receipt and it shifts tax decisions from Congress to individual citizens through their consumption choices.

In recent years there have been two responses from candidates subject to such deceptive ads–fight or flight. Even though it is the favored advice from Washington, those who run away from the issue almost always lose their elections. Those who stand and fight, like Senator Saxby Chambliss last year in Georgia or Rep. Steve King in Iowa, almost always win.

Those candidates who stand and fight for the FairTax attract voters from across the political spectrum because, unlike income tax policy debates, the FairTax actually benefits every economic level. The potential for robust job creation is so great, the issue resonates best where unemployment is highest and where the most American jobs have moved offshore. Those who run away from the issue, on the other hand, both show voters they will not stand by a position and surrender the field to the deceptive and misleading attack ads that wrongly seek to paint them as supporting higher taxes.

The income tax system has corruptly evolved into an overly complex, heavily manipulated, unfair and costly system that is very good for Washington insiders and very destructive for almost everyone else. While passionate debate and detailed study about any proposal to fix this destructive reality is fair, deliberate deception that retards such a debate to win a political race is not. My organization will not stand by and let Washington insiders lie about the FairTax to the American people. We will be doing much, much more to expose those who deceive the public to gain votes at the cost of honest debate about this needed change to the federal tax system.

Ken Hoagland is chairman of the FairTax National Victory Campaign and author of the recently published “The FairTax Solution—Economic Justice for All Americans”. More information on the issue can be found at www.FairTax.org