When someone says “First Amendment” you immediately think about your right to free speech, or perhaps freedom of religion. The First Amendment actually goes beyond that. For those of you who attended government schools, it’s time for a refresher. Here’s the actual wording:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Most people have a handle on the free speech, freedom of religion and the right to assemble parts of that paragraph. But what about the right “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”? Just when is the last time THAT particular right was on your radar screen?
Surprisingly enough the Obama Administration honored the idea of petitioning for a redress of grievances when it set up a method for doing just that on the WhiteHouse.gov website under the heading “We the People, Your Voice in Our Government.” Originally the White House promised a response to any petition that gathered 25,000 signatures. That threshold was raised to 100,000 when the system was flooded with asinine petitions exhorting the government to build a death star or make the Monday after the Super Bowl a national holiday.
So … on January 8th I created a petition on the White House site. The petition reads:
We petition the Obama administration to:
Invite Neal Boortz, the author of The FairTax Book, to spend one hour talking with the President about tax reform.
A petition to request that the President spend one hour discussing The FairTax, the most thoroughly researched tax reform legislation in history, with Neal Boortz and former GOP Congressman John Linder, co-authors of The FairTax Book and FairTax, The Truth.
We had one month to gather the required 25,000 signatures, and we accomplished the goal. Now we await the promised White House response.
The president has been quite vocal in his support for tax reform, though it would seem that his concept of reform is to raise taxes on the rich and free the middle class of any tax burden whatsoever. Well, here are a few ideas!
· What about a tax reform proposal that would guarantee that no head of household in America pays one penny of taxes to the federal government until they have satisfied the basic needs of their own families? Cover your family’s needs first – then the government.
· How about a tax code that allows every working American to take home 100% of their paycheck every payday?
· What about a tax code that allows every American to transfer their wealth to their children, their grandchildren, or to any party they chose, whether in life or upon their death, with no tax consequences whatsoever?
· What about a tax code where labor and capital are not taxed at any level?
· And what about a tax code that accomplishes all of this, and more, without raising the price of consumer goods or cutting government spending. Pure tax reform --- not a politically targeted change in the tax code aimed at one segment of the population.
Such a tax reform proposal does exist. It’s called The FairTax, and is currently before both the House and the Senate. This is a tax reform plan developed by accountants, economists, business people and ordinary citizens using $22 million in donated funds to develop the most researched piece of legislation ever placed before the Congress of the United States.
So now we wait for the response from the White House. The inclination of many is to believe that the White House will simply issue a statement to the effect that “The President understands the desires of the American people for tax reform and is dedicated to working with representatives of both parties to reach an agreement on comprehensive tax reform that will be fair to all.” Well there you go … you get the words “comprehensive” and “fair” into the statement!
There is also, of course, the fact that I’m a harsh critic of the president – and that doesn’t exactly spell success for the idea of a meeting. .
But … who knows? There could be some advantages to the White House in doing just what the petition asks … inviting me to the White House to put the FairTax plan before the president and his advisors. When the FairTax was first introduced into the congress Charlie Rangel, then the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee – the committee responsible for considering changes to our tax laws – told Congressman Linder that the FairTax was a wonderful idea. When Linder asked him why they didn’t go ahead and pass it, Rangel responded that they would, but when the Democrats were in charge.
Well … the Democrats were in charge for two years, and nothing happened. Now the people have spoken through a petition – a petition for a redress of grievances – a petition for relief from an onerous tax code that punishes hard work, discourages achievement, and costs hundreds of billions of dollars a year to implement.
Here is the White House’s chance to show that the whole petition process on Whitehouse.gov isn’t just window dressing; that they will give serious consideration to a petition asking for a reasonable accommodation, a one-hour meeting. This is a chance for the White House to actually honor – and breath new life into – a provision in the First Amendment designed to empower the people.
We’ll see. I’m not holding my breath – and I’m not clearing my busy retirement schedule yet – but we’ll see.