Blow It Up

John Linder Former Congressman
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The American people sent a message to President Trump last November 8 and it is this: “Blow it up! Don’t tinker with it. Don’t fix it. Blow it up!”

The temporizers and incrementalists in the establishment are responsible for the mess we’re in. None of them supported President Trump. He owes them nothing. He has the greatest opportunity of any president in our lifetimes to achieve fundamental change. Carpe diem.

The federal government is comprised of thousands of Rube Goldberg contraptions that accrue knobs and adjustments the way ships accrue barnacles. The bureaucrats who built those contraptions are now lobbyists who know more about them than the representatives and senators elected to oversee them. For the powerful and wealthy in our society, who can afford to rent the establishment, the knobs get turned for their benefit. The rest of us pay the tab.

America’s income tax and healthcare systems are two of the most complicated and expensive contraptions in all of society. They can both be fixed – for a while – but the fixes are temporary. As soon as the reformer walks out the door the establishment will be hired to turn the knobs back for the benefit of those who can afford to pay.

The effort to fix our healthcare system has been a knob turning exercise on a contraption known as Obamacare. Do we turn the subsidy knob this way? Shall we adjust the benefit knob that way? Which knob mandates that you buy insurance?

Many of the knobs are in the Department of HHS. Obamacare gave the Secretary of HHS 1442 opportunities for deciding how you get cared for. Secretary Tom Price knows as much about them as anyone and will turn them so that you will have more control over your decisions.

But another Secretary will come along in due course and assume control of those knobs. They will be turned back to satisfy the establishment.

I have no doubt that Tom Price would rather blow up the Obamacare contraption entirely and allow for a new healthcare system to grow up organically through individual choices in a free market. Future rent-seekers would have to start from scratch to design and build a new contraption. If the Obamacare contraption is left in place that will just be a knob-turning exercise.

Our income tax system is an even more complicated Rube Goldberg contraption with 75,000 pages of knobs and adjustments put in place over the past 31 years. Presently both the president and the Congressional leadership have proposals to fix it. The “blow it up” proposal, however, is not among them.

Our tax system was last fixed in 1986 in a bipartisan effort under President Reagan. At that time there were 26,000 pages of knob-creating regulations. Most were eliminated. The number of tax rates was reduced from 14 to 2. The top tax rate for individuals was reduced from 50% to 28%.

There was a great deal of celebration over that heroic reform and it lasted exactly four years. In 1990 President George H.W. Bush reached a bipartisan agreement with Congress to increase the number of tax rates with the top rate going up to 31%.

Three years later President Clinton increased the number of tax rates and increased the top rate to 39.6%. President George W. Bush lowered it to 35%. President Obama raised it back to 39.6%. And so it goes.

It is now 31 years since the celebrated tax simplification of 1986. We have 75,000 pages of knobs and adjustments in the tax code on behalf of those who can afford to rent the knowledge of thousands of K Street lobbyists, many of whom make over a million dollars a year gaming the system.

President Trump has a choice. He can fix the income tax contraption or blow it up. He can, and should, throw out the entire income tax system and the IRS, which has been weaponized by the Obama administration.

He should opt instead for a national sales tax – the FairTax – that has more sponsors in Congress than any tax reform proposal in the last 50 years.

The FairTax is revenue neutral, untaxes the poor, dramatically increases the economy creating millions of jobs, puts a WTO compliant tariff on imports and eliminates the IRS.

And it gives the American people the greatest gift a free society has in its power to give. Anonymity. No agency of government should know more about us than we are willing to tell our children.

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