Yes, I've read the legislation.
No, I don't listen to the radio show.
No, I'm no stupid, idiotic, dishonest, evil, an employee of the IRS, spouse of an IRS employee, or part of a conspiracy of journalists against the middle class.
Yes, other conservative economists who have asked tough questions about the FairTax warned me to get ready for a gusher of hate mail.
Yes, the fact that the FairTax faction (after reading a torrent of insulting email, that word seems right to me) defaults to abusive speech from the beginning means that they are a movement of zealots with a weak case.
No, my questions are not all answered in the book or at fairtax.org or in the legislation.
No, my questions are not really answered by the emails and posts which I have received. What have been answered are the questions which remind the FairTaxers of other easier questions to are addressed on the web site.
No, the FairTax will not be simple. The debate in response to my latest article proves that.
No, the apologists who responded to me did not even remotely deal with the problem of the interest portion of mortgages.
Yes, I know that that interest isn't supposed to be taxable. But I also know that if all interest remains non-taxable, there will be a massive movement towards discounting house and durable goods sales prices and then making up the difference with high interest rates.
No, none of the fairtaxers seem who wrote to me seem to know that under the legislation, only some of interest is non-taxable.
Yes, that's right the government will decide what a reasonable interest rate is, and then tax you for anything above that.
No, the legislation's choice of how to interest is not actually reasonable at all. It uses the Treasury bond rate, which is very low.
So, yes, you will be paying sales tax, not just on your house, but on a substantial part of your interest as well.
Yes, this makes the effective tax rate on houses (and cars, and washing machines, etc.) and anything else bought with borrowed money, higher than on goods not purchased on credit.
Yes, this hurts the poor.
Yes, this punishes people with sub-prime mortgages.
Yes, it means that every time the Fed meets, it finds itself not just setting monetary policy, but tax policy as well.
No, this is not just interest about the interest problem. I could go all day on about this plan. Employee discounts, tipping, taxing churches: every element of this plan is fraught with complexity. The fact that the FairTaxers shout down questions like this tells us a great deal more about them than it does about the proposed plan.
Yes, I'm done – for now.
In Honor of His 103rd Birthday, Here Are The 20 Best Quotes From The Late, Great Milton Friedman | John Hawkins