Thursday, November 29, 2007
The Republican debate:
Andrew Sullivan writes
I'm not ... someone who believes that a candidacy for the presidency of the United States should be based on someone's religious faith. So Huckabee is not for me. But he is easily the most appealing candidate for the current big-spending, evangelical, Southern Republican party. I don't find his religious schtick in any way appealing.
"Richelieu" at the Weekly Standard (!) writes
The media will probably award a win to Mike Huckabee, the easy listening music candidate at home in any crowd, fluent in simpleton speak and the one man on the stage tonight who led the audience to roaring cheers by boasting that he had a special qualification to be president that none of the second-raters on the stage could match: A degree in Bible Studies from Ouachita Baptist University of Arkadelphia, Arkansas.
Walter Shapiro at Salon writes
: (emp add)
And, please God, no more debate questions about the Bible. Somewhere in the dim corridors of memory, I recall being taught (admittedly under the liberal Earl Warren Supreme Court) that there were no religious tests for holding public office in the United States. The theology was getting so thick onstage Wednesday night (with Huckabee, a Baptist minister, all but offering to give Scripture lessons to Rudy Giuliani) that I imagined that instead of commercial breaks, CNN might interrupt the debate for two minutes of public prayer.
If this is really destined to be the God-help-us election, then maybe we should all stop worrying about all those other issues, including fringy Republican causes like the so-called fair tax. Instead, let a civic-minded network like CNN sponsor a debate on a single topic of vital importance. What I am, of course, suggesting -- and it certainly is what the Founding Fathers imagined -- is a free-wheeling two-hour face-off on the Bible and only the Bible.
A debate by the candidates on the Bible would be great because it would force them to get beyond the sloganeering that currently passes for fidelity to religion. A real good debate over which of the Commandment passages (2 in Exodus, 1 in Deuteronomy) should be the focus, which division should be heeded (Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish), and if there are even explicitly ten commandments (try counting them). That's for starters. Then we could ask them what the meaning is when in the Hebrew Bible, the deity is called Elohim or Yahweh. Or explain why the last passages from the Gospel of Mark are not found in the earliest extant copies (as well as the adulterous woman in John). What is the message when Jesus couldn't perform any miracles in a Galileean town (hint: it had to do with the need for 'faith' in order to enter the New Kingdom, and healing was a foretaste of the egalitarian and disease free
utopia to come).
These are not meant to be "trick questions" posed by an atheist to befuddle a believer. They are genuine questions that have, for the most part, good answers for someone well schooled in their faith. And if the Republican candidates say they are on top of things theologically (since they say it will guide their policy actions), then they should be able to deal with them. And even though you might think Huckabee would excel at this, don't be so sure. From this blogger's perspective, he comes off as a repeater of bromides rather more than anything.
While I don't like Huckabee's evangelizing, some of his sound bites are pretty funny. And that Chuck Norris commercial sounds amusing. But, when I vote next year, I'll be voting for President and not for either mullah or comic. So there's no way I'd vote for any Republican.
People love their bromides, though. Especially biblical ones.
It's clear that the tax equity of Huck's FairTax is not yet out there, while Giuliani now supports a flat tax, which he used to be adamantly against.
Dan Mastromarco has done an excellent job of showing the deficiencies of a Forbes / Giuliani "flat tax" (which is really a VAT).
And Kotlikoff, et al, has done a well-documented look at how current income classes would benefit under the FairTax, and prevent the impending meltdown of the economy, to boot!
Prices after FairTax passage would look similar to prices before FairTax - not "30% higher" as opponents contend - competition would see to it. So, the FairTax rate (figured as an income-tax-rate-non-comparative, sales tax) on new items would be 29.85% (on the new, reduced cost of items because business isn't taxed under FairTax - thus lowering retail prices by 20% to 30%), or 23% of the "tax inclusive" price tag - this is the way INCOME TAX is figured (parts of the total dollar).
The effective tax rate percentages, that different income groups would pay under the FairTax, are calculated by crediting the monthly "prebate" (advance rebate of projected tax on necessities) against total monthly spending of citizen families (1 member and greater, Dept. of Commerce poverty-level data; a single person receiving ~$200/mo, a family of four, ~$500/mo, in addition to working earners receiving paychecks with no Federal deductions) Prof.'s Kotlikoff and Rapson (10/06) concluded,
"...the FairTax imposes much lower average taxes on working-age households than does the current system. The FairTax broadens the tax base from what is now primarily a system of labor income taxation to a system that taxes, albeit indirectly, both labor income and existing wealth. By including existing wealth in the effective tax base, much of which is owned by rich and middle-class elderly households, the FairTax is able to tax labor income at a lower effective rate and, thereby, lower the average lifetime tax rates facing working-age Americans.
"Consider, as an example, a single household age 30 earning $50,000. The household’s average tax rate under the current system is 21.1 percent. It’s 13.5 percent under the FairTax. Since the FairTax would preserve the purchasing power of Social Security benefits and also provide a tax rebate, older low-income workers who will live primarily or exclusively on Social Security would be better off. As an example, the average remaining lifetime tax rate for an age 60 married couple with $20,000 of earnings falls from its current value of 7.2 percent to -11.0 percent under the FairTax. As another example, compare the current 24.0 percent remaining lifetime average tax rate of a married age 45 couple with $100,000 in earnings to the 14.7 percent rate that arises under the FairTax."
Further, per Jokischa and Kotlikoff (circa 2006?) ...
"...once one moves to generations postdating the baby boomers there are positive welfare gains for all income groups in each cohort. Under a 23 percent FairTax policy, the poorest members of the generation born in 1990 enjoy a 13.5 percent welfare gain. Their middle-class and rich contemporaries experience 5 and 2 percent welfare gains, respectively. The welfare gains are largest for future generations. Take the cohort born in 2030. The poorest members of this cohort enjoy a huge 26 percent improvement in their well-being. For middle class members of this birth group, there's a 12 percent welfare gain. And for the richest members of the group, the gain is 5 percent."
There is no reasonable equity of distribution under the current INCOME tax system. What's more, the Tax Code has become a "tinkerer's paradise" for 53% of the lobbyists who game it in Washington DC. It's a lucrative business, and the U.S. TAXPAYER pays for ALL of it in higher prices (i.e., a hidden tax which is incomprehensible to the average working person).
It's well past time to scrap the tax code and pay for government the way that America's working men and women are paid - when something is sold.
(Permission is granted to reproduce in whole or part. - Ian)