To put it simply, not everyone would benefit from simplifying the method we use to fund our federal government, and those who would be hurt are on the attack in an effort to save their jobs or their personal policy fiefdoms. Clearly, it’s a no-holds barred war that has developed.
I’ve long had a great deal of respect for Bruce Bartlett. I’ve cited his commentary countless times on my radio show. Lately Bartlett has become perhaps the country’s most vitriolic opponent of the FairTax as evidenced by a series of recent columns in which he makes a weak attempt to tie the FairTax to Scientology. The best that Bartlett can come up with is that years before the FairTax was developed there was a group called Citizens for an Alternative Tax System that developed a plan for a national retail sales tax. The plan was wholly different from the FairTax in that it called for an exclusive, rather than an inclusive sales tax, it did not eliminate payroll taxes, it had no provision to rebate taxes paid on life’s essentials, and it left our corporate tax structure in place.
Bartlett’s FairTax-Scientology connection is so vaporous as to be absurd. Some Scientologist talked to some guy in Texas who dismissed him out of hand. Sometime later the guy in Texas, who was not a Scientologist, became involved with Leo Linbeck and Robert McNair; the fathers, if you will, of the FairTax movement. So … since some Scientologist once talked to a person now associated with the people who created the FairTax, that makes the FairTax a Scientologist plot. Neither Linbeck nor McNair have any connection whatsoever with Scientology, and Congressman John Linder, the author of H.R. 25, the FairTax Act, is an elder in the Presbyterian church. Me? Episcopalian.
Bartlett’s attacks on the FairTax smack of desperation. Does this plan upset him so much that he has to resort to such a weak attempt at guilt by association? His attacks on the FairTax don’t stop with the Scientology smear. Bartlett completely (intentionally?) mischaracterizes the FairTax prebate, the FairTax provision that insures that no American family would pay the FairTax on the basic necessities of life, by stating in two columns that the government would have to track individual family incomes to implement the prebate plan. A sixth-grader could read the bill or The FairTax Book and understand that the prebate is predicated on the size of the family, not the family income; yet Bartlett continues to insist that income must be tracked! Desparation, carelessness or ignorance?
Then there’s Bartlett’s refusal to acknowledge that the FairTax is to be quoted as an inclusive tax, as are the income taxes the FairTax is designed to replace. My guess is that during Bartlett’s time at the Treasury Department he insisted on quoting the income tax as inclusive. Why the refusal to quote the tax that seeks to replace the income tax the same way?
Bartlett is illustrating one basic truth about the FairTax. It is easy to demagogue. Has the FairTax so-alarmed advocates of big government that they actually have to resort to childish attacks such as this Scientology nonsense? You would think that if FairTax opponents had a choice they would rather base their attacks on the FairTax on solid and defensible criticisms or objections. Perhaps these attacks centered around the absurd notion that the FairTax is a part of some great Scientologist plot are more evidence of concern that the idea is catching on … an idea that could cost them a livelihood or render their intricate knowledge of the current tax code useless … than anything else.