A flat tax rate on all income regardless of source will shift the discussion to spending and end the politics of envy
There is a legend that after being knocked around early in his career, Hall of Famer Bill Russell was advised by storied basketball coach Red Auerbach to throw an elbow in a nationally televised game to send a message to his adversaries.
President Obama has thrown the Republican Party off its game. House Republicans passed the first tax increase in the history of Republican controlled Congresses. Rather than respond with substantial sweeping proposals to cut spending, House Republicans passed a “baby step”, attempting to “force” the Senate to pass its first budget in four years, a measure Democrat Senate leader Chuck Schumer gleefully promised would include further tax increases and new spending proposals. When President Obama declared in his inaugural address that “we do not believe that in this country freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few”, he signalled that he continues to view class struggle as the raison d’etre of his administration.
If the Republican Party does not want to be the doormat of President Obama’s second term, they need to throw a metaphorical elbow and stand up to the President. While liberals have suggested President Obama’s mission should be the destruction of the Republican Party, the goal of Republicans should be the elimination of class envy and economic division from our political discourse. Without the ability to fan the flames of class envy and economic division, Democrats will be forced to stoke the embers of a less popular liberal social agenda. By embracing a flat tax regardless of whether Democrats would endorse such a measure, Republicans will signal they no longer wish to play politics by rules set by liberal Democrats.
The economic virtues of the flat tax are well established. Its political virtues are often ignored. The political power of the flat tax is often why Democrats fight it so hard. Political outsider Herman Cain vaulted to the lead in the Republican presidential primary process based on the power of his flat tax proposal. So powerful is the idea that every Republican presidential candidate in 2012 (except the eventual nominee) endorsed a significant flattening of income tax rates and simplifying the tax code. Republican House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan endorses a significant flattening of income tax rates in his Path to Prosperity. While these proposals are a step in the right direction, endorsing a flat income tax rate no matter the source of the income will allow Republicans to claim the mantle of ending the Marxist politics of class envy and economic division.
For years, the mother’s milk of Democrat politics has been to fan the flames of class envy and economic division. In President Obama, Democrats have an ideologue who is more successful at playing this game than any of his predecessors. Americans collecting disability insurance and food stamps are at record levels. Nearly 1 in 6 Americans live in poverty. When Mitt Romney talks about the 47% of Americans who receive government benefits, Americans who receive these benefits worry that Republicans plan to cut their lifeline. Talk of growth and opportunity becomes an abstraction because nearly half of our fellow citizens do not pay our country’s bills. With the growth of public debt skyrocketing to unprecedented levels, conservatives appreciate this course is unsustainable.
Despite such stark economic conditions, Republicans face a political problem. With a record number of Americans having left the workforce and relying on public benefits, President Obama has expanded the base of reliably Democrat voters. Since most of these voters do not pay for the benefits they receive, they have little incentive to change the system.
Republicans face an additional political problem. Democrats have successfully mocked Republican proposals to cut taxes in order to spur economic growth by equating them with eating chicken soup when you feel ill. Even if Mitt Romney had endorsed a flat tax proposal similar to the one suggested by his running mate, Democrats would have continued to fan the flames of class envy and economic division because people who earn capital gains and dividends pay taxes at a preferential rate.
Consequently, if Republicans want to stop being characterized as the party of “the rich” and become the party of “the country”, they need to endorse a flat income tax on all income regardless of source so everyone has equal “skin in the game”. Supporters of President Obama were shocked and appalled when their payroll tax withholding rose as a consequence of the recent ‘fiscal cliff’ law. Perhaps they would have been even more outraged had they learned that the tax increase President Obama’s auto-pen signed into law was used to subsidize tax breaks for Hollywood, NASCAR, Goldman Sachs and Puerto Rican rum distillers to name a few. This is one reason why Democrat pollster Pat Caddell suggests 3/4 of Americans believe their country no longer operates by the consent of the governed. Not only would Republicans be rewarded politically for supporting a ‘we are all in this together approach’ to tax policy, but a flat tax rate would help shift the focus of national debate from taxes to spending.
Republican presidential candidates were chastised for their unwillingness to support a 10:1 ratio of spending cuts to tax increases. Yet, Congress passed a law that arguably cut taxes and increased spending by an inverse 1:10 ratio. If everyone actually paid income tax much less at the same rate, voters’ interest in how Congress spends taxpayer money would increase dramatically. The political conversation would shift from income redistribution through a progressive income tax structure, government subsidies and spending programs to how much do we really want to spend and how much do we need to tax everyone to do it.
President Obama will raise a quarter of a trillion dollars in new taxes in 2013. Each of these new taxes affects a different subset of taxpayers. As a result, President Obama has been able to set taxpayers, Americans, against one another. It is an Alinsky-style strategy of divide and conquer. Unfortunately, it has worked! Republicans need to fight back and propose a system for funding our shared obligations that unites Americans and respects our traditions. Otherwise, who knows where America will be in 2016.
— FreedomWorks (@FreedomWorks) January 29, 2013
Taxes hikes are a distraction. It is all about spending.
Barack Obama is a master magician. The great ones keep your attention focused on their right hand while they pick your pocket with their left. For a lawyer who voluntarily surrendered his law license, Barack Obama has proven an exceptional ability to frame the public debate.
When presenting the administration’s “fiscal cliff” proposal to Congress, Treasury Secretary Geithner asked for three things; taxes, spending and executive authority to unilaterally raise the debt limit. In reply, House GOP “Leadership” acquiesced agreeing to cap deductions including the mortgage interest deduction effectively raising taxes. Barack Obama proposes to raise taxes to cover eight days of government spending. The Republicans countered with four. Both parties claim to be raising “revenue” and not levying taxes.
House “Leadership” claims to promote fiscal restraint while removing fiscal hawks from key leadership positions. The Democrat Senate does not pass a budget for three years while quietly incorporating the 2009 Obama “stimulus” into the spending baseline thereby enacting a permanent stimulus. By claiming that “it’s time to rip the Band-Aid off and reach a deal” or “it won’t kill the country if we raise taxes a little bit on millionaires,” Republicans are validating the virtue of these new spending levels and relinquishing their mantle as the party of low taxes and limited government.
While some have suggested Obama’s objective is to “kill” the Republican Party by forcing it to relinquish its core principles, the “tell” to Obama’s principal goal is Treasury Secretary Geithner’s proposal to “lift the debt limit to infinity.” Obama understands the only leverage fiscal conservatives have at forcing any measure of spending restraint or entitlement reform is through debt limit negotiations. Obama has not presented any spending cuts during “fiscal cliff” “negotiations” because they are not in his political interest. If Republicans agree to raise taxes, Obama forces them to go back on their pledge and achieves a political “win”. If Republicans hold firm on their principles, Obama gets massive tax hikes on everyone to pay for increased spending. Obama is buying ad time to try and force the Republicans’ hands, something conservative talk show host Mark Levin suggested Republicans do to explain the virtue of cutting spending and not raising taxes.
The only way Republicans regain the upper hand is to hold firm to their principals, articulate their position and exert their leverage at the upcoming debt limit negotiations. Capitulation will hurt the country as Obama has demonstrated an unwillingness to cut spending and proposed tax hikes will cover little current spending. Moreover, members who capitulate will pay a heavy political price as they will force conservatives into open revolt.
— FreedomWorks (@FreedomWorks) December 4, 2012
Turn on cable news and you hear Democrats and an ever increasing chorus of Republicans cheer about our need to raise “revenue”. Revenue usually refers to income or earnings, the profit or proceeds from the sale of good or services or one’s labor. It does not often refer to taxes or levies. Yet there go the politicians claiming their entitlement to an ever increasing slice of the proceeds of our work as their reward. Language aside, it seems instructive to ask, what do they really need the money for? Maybe we really do need to pony up for the good of the country. Maybe all we need is a few of those “rich” fellas to kick in a little more.
It turns out that “one time” ‘we have do this since we face the worst economic crisis since the great depression’ “stimulus” is the new federal baseline. In other words, our government has been spending the equivalent of a trillion dollar “stimulus” every year since Barack Obama took office. While it is no surprise our government has been running trillion+ dollar deficits year after year after year, by endorsing the idea that our government needs to collect more “revenue” to pay for this increased spending, politicians are endorsing the belief that we need to continue spending at this increased rate!
Some Republican politicians have suggested that “it’s time to rip the Band-Aid off and reach a deal.” Other Republican pundits have decried that it “won’t kill the country if we raise taxes a little bit on millionaires.” In fact, raising taxes on the “rich” as Obama has suggested would fund the federal government for a grand total of 8 days at current spending levels. While raising taxes on the “rich” may not “kill the country,” it will not help it much either. What it might do however, is “kill” the Republican Party which will lose its mantle as the party of low taxes and limited government. Further, it will immunize President Obama and Congressional Democrats from blame when the 8 days of new government funding does little to balance the budget or improve the economy.
Though promising voters they would not vote to raise their taxes, some Republican politicians have suggested “the world has changed” from the time they signed their pledge. Yet, some have remarked that “if politicians won’t keep their word when they sign their names, what use is what they say when they don’t?” The pledge is not a promise politicians made to some “purist” who runs an advocacy group, the pledge is a promise politicians made to the constituents who elected them. That is the fidelity that is being broken when politicians go back on their word.
Where can we begin making serious spending cuts? I challenge GOP lawmakers to read the House Republican Study Committee’s Spending Reduction Act of 2011. It lays out $2.5 trillion in cuts to federal programs most taxpayers have never heard of. This is without even discussing cuts to so-called entitlement programs which conservatives understand need to be reformed.
Rather than increase income tax rates, some Republicans have proposed curtailing deductions on mortgage interest, state and local taxes, and charitable contributions. Ignoring the semantics that eliminating a deduction on which a taxpayer relies is the functional equivalent of raising his income tax rate, decreasing the deduction taxpayers are allowed for mortgage interest will further depress housing prices in an already depressed housing market. Reducing the ability of taxpayers to deduct state and local taxes will amount to double taxation as some of those taxes are taxes on income. Reducing or eliminating the deduction for charitable contributions will result in considerably less holiday cheer for many charitable institutions.
Throughout the year, Tea Partiers traveled to Wisconsin to help a governor survive a recall election in a state that they do not live in. They traveled to Texas in the sweltering summer sun helping to ensure we “extremists” had representation in DC. Many more traveled to Ohio and Virginia because we appreciate that all elections are important as the votes of every politician effect us all. We know who is up for re-election in two years. We are watching and we are coming!
A former teacher and fellow blogger started a tradition in her classroom called Thankful Thursday. She did this because “gratitude is a gift.” She wrote, in part,
We need to talk about gratitude more in this country – in our families, in our schools, in our political discussions, in general. The more we recognize how lucky we are for the simple gift of individual liberty or to live under the Constitution, the more opportunities we have to spread the message that it is our job, as citizens and voters, to protect what we are so grateful for.
I was reminded of this the other day when I received an email from a fellow activist. This activist organized fellow patriots from Texas and Tennessee to write personal letters to voters in Virginia and to travel to that state to knock on doors in an effort to persuade voters. In fact, the activist and her 300 fellow volunteers wrote 53,000 such letters and spent nine weekends on the ground in Virginia, on their own dime! As she wrote,
We didn’t have millions of dollars or a Washington office full of highly-paid consultants. We saw a need to help save Virginia and we did everything in our power to do that.
This is what I am thankful for this Thanksgiving and what inspires me for the future. Over the past few years, activists like this woman have seen what is happening and have stepped forward to save our country. We are a growing movement that will not be deterred. As she concluded,
Because of what we accomplished with such few resources, I have hope for America. I have hope that sometime in the future that you will answer the call again. And that next time, more will join us in the fight and we will be victorious! They will be encouraged by our commitment and unwillingness to give up. We can take comfort that only 25% of the American colonists were committed to freedom and single-handedly changed the course of human history.
I have hope too! Happy Thanksgiving!
— FreedomWorks (@FreedomWorks) November 21, 2012
Like you, I was deeply disappointed by the results of last week’s election. It’s taken me a few days to write this message to you. However, you’ve not been far from my thoughts.
As soon as the outcome of the election was apparent, every red-blooded conservative in the country asked, “How did that happen? How could we have lost?”
Most all of us have a fairly long list of what should have happened or what should have been executed better and even what needs to happen next time. And those are all important discussions. However, I wanted all of you to take solace in the fact that you made an important contribution. You Answered The Call. There are continually reasons to not participate in this fight for our nation. You ignored all those obstacles and participated at a greater level than most conservatives in America.
Do you realize what we accomplished together? You wrote more personal postcards than had ever been written in a single effort….ever! Over 53,000! You traveled to Virginia to tirelessly canvass the homes of undecided voters for 9 weekends. Over 300 conservatives from Texas and Tennessee! This was the largest, independent Get-Out-The-Vote effort of red-state activists travelling to a battleground state…..ever! Can you believe that we did that together? We didn’t have Millions of Dollars or have a Washington office full of highly-paid consultants. We saw a need to help save Virginia and we did everything in our power to do that. You Answered The Call.
Because of what we accomplished on so little resources, I have hope for America. I have hope that sometime in the future that you will answer the call again. And that next time, more will join us in the fight and we will be victorious! They will be encouraged by our commitment and unwillingness to give up. We can take comfort that only 25% of the American colonists were committed to freedom and single-handedly changed the course of human history. We know in the Bible, God mostly chose a small contingent to accomplish His work. We don’t need an overwhelming army for God to do His mighty work in America. We just need patriots that will answer the call.
Thank you for answering the call in Virginia. I pray that you will be ready to fight for freedom again.
I can’t thank each of you enough for your efforts. And, thank you for being such an encouragement to me.
God Bless You and May God Bless America.
Volunteers for Virginia – Co-Organizer
Over the past four years, FreedomWorks has helped the conservative and libertarian movements grow and thrive. A million people marched on Capitol Hill in 2009. The GOP won a 60+ seat majority in the House in 2010. Freedomworks’ Super PAC raised over $15 million and spearheaded GOTV efforts in Senate races across the country planting yard signs by the truckload as far as the eye can see. Yet, conservatives lost many of the races we cared about most in 2012. While it has been argued that the top of our ticket did not inspire some, the fact remains that we did not get our voters to the polls in races we cared about most. If conservatives and libertarians are to achieve a Hostile Takeover of the GOP, we need to elect candidates whose loyalty to principle is greater than their loyalty to party. In order to do that, we need to move beyond being a political movement and become a political operation.
There have been many recriminations over the past week as to the cause of the GOP electoral defeat. Some have suggested the GOP is the Leave it to Beaver party that has failed to keep up with ‘shifting demographics’. Others have pointed to the failure of Mitt Romney’s GOTV software known as Project ORCA. While Project ORCA was clearly a technological failure, the greater failure was that Mitt Romney’s GOTV effort was not localized. The same can be said of Mitt Romney’s voter integrity effort. As an election lawyer in Philadelphia, it does not surprise me that Mitt Romney did not receive a single vote in 59 Philadelphia voting divisions.
From the moment poles opened until well into the afternoon, I observed long lines of voters snaking through polling locations in heavily Democrat neighborhoods of Philadelphia where every voter was handed a card instructing them how to vote. These are similar to the cards that were handed out in heavily Democrat neighborhoods in Bridgeport, CT in 2010. No such lines existed in Republican neighborhoods and similar cards were not handed out to voters asking them to vote for Republican or conservative candidates.
From the time that poles opened until the moment they closed, there was a concerted effort by Philadelphia voting officials to weigh their thumbs on the scale of the election. Democrats fought efforts to seat Republican voting inspectors despite being presented with court orders to do so. In one instance, an election judge and the Democrat voting inspectors abandoned their polling location for the entire day, upset at being forced to work alongside Republican inspectors. I observed multiple instances of electioneering inside polling locations and had to return to the same polling locations on multiple occasions to chase electioneers away. I was even forced to instruct an election judge not to ‘pull the lever’ for a voter. When election judges were informed of electioneering inside their polling locations, they often pled ignorance or lack of responsibility notwithstanding instructions to the contrary from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office.
It is no longer sufficient for conservatives to drive the ideological agenda yet rely on party officials to drive GOTV and voter integrity efforts. Grassroots conservatives and independent groups must fund and organize these initiatives with the same level of urgency that liberal groups do. I observed two union painters asking for a receipt after they voted. When offered an ‘I voted’ sticker, they demurred insisting that the election judge provide them with a written receipt for having voted so their union boss could pay them for their time. Unions and liberal interest groups are reliable Democrat voters because they have significant economic interests at stake. Taxpayers, however, have just as much at stake as they are the ones footing the bills. Yet, taxpayers have not behaved with the same degree of urgency.
In my experience, the Republican party has done a poor job organizing, planning and funding GOTV and election integrity efforts. It is time for grassroots conservatives and independent groups to step in if we are to save our country. Grassroots conservatives cannot merely register at True the Vote and watch polls in their own neighborhood. They must be vigilant in the prevention of fraud in neighborhoods where fraud traditionally occurs in states and elections where the stakes are highest. Grassroots conservatives must staff, fund, plan and organize these efforts with the same level of care and commitment that unions and liberal interest groups do.
Barack Obama needed a 450,000 vote margin in Philadelphia to defeat Mitt Romney by 300,000 votes in Pennsylvania. Barack Obama needed a 240,000 vote margin in Cleveland to defeat Mitt Romney by 100,000 votes in Ohio. If conservatives do not want Cleveland and Philadelphia to continue to decide elections, let this serve as a wake-up call. Otherwise, America is destined to become a nation of Clevelands and Philadelphias.
— FreedomWorks (@FreedomWorks) November 13, 2012
I was a poll watcher in Bridgeport, CT in 2010. For those of you not familiar, the Mayor of Bridgeport set off a recent firestorm by promising to swing the 2012 U.S. Senate election for Democrat Chris Murphy. How can he do that? Let me tell you what happened in 2010.
The 2010 Connecticut Governor’s race was a closely fought election. The final result was a Democrat victory by 5000 votes. On the morning after election day, the result showed a different outcome. The Secretary of State ordered an insufficient supply of ballots so in the middle of the afternoon, election precincts across the state began to run out. Extra unnumbered, unaudited copies of ballots were photocopied and handed out to voters during the late afternoon. As they were not printed on special computer readable paper, they were not fed through the scantron machine so they were secured in a special storage bin which began overflowing by the early evening. In fact, so many ballots were cast that they had to be collected in shopping bags. At the end of the evening, after polls were kept open for an additional two hours by a judicial order meant to accommodate voters who were unable to vote during the fifteen minutes that polls were closed mid-afternoon, the ballots were secured and tabulated. A tally was sent to the Registrar of Voters which engaged in a marathon counting session throughout the night. By morning, with the final official tally on the fax machine set to be reported to the Secretary of State in the capital, someone miraculously found a bag of missing ballots and thus set off days of additional counts and recounts which swelled the margin of victory of the Democrat candidate. To paraphrase President Obama, the situation was ‘not optimal’ to say the least.
What can be done?
(1) Volunteer to be a poll watcher with your local campaign and organizations like True the Vote. The primary job of a poll watcher is not to catch fraud but to deter it. Leftist groups attack True the Vote because they know that it is easier to cheat when people are not watching.
(2) Be prepared. Republicans were not adequately prepared in Connecticut in 2010. Election supervisors are not generally lawyers and can be taken aback when their discretion is challenged by a member of the opposition party, sometimes for the first time. Poll watchers need to be able to rely on a team of local lawyers who can escalate issues to a local judge or magistrate. Many disagreements amount to minor misunderstandings of the law and can be handled expeditiously if poll watchers have support from the local campaign. In Connecticut in 2010, all disputes including the decision to keep polls open an additional two hours were litigated in the state capital several hours away. Had anyone asked, the appropriate remedy would have been to keep polls open an additional fifteen minutes as that is how long they had been closed.
(3) Remember that the primary job of the poll watcher is to deter fraud and that can only be accomplished if you are in the room. Within an hour of my arrival at the polling location, the election supervisor asked the Deputy Registrar of Voters, accompanied by two state troopers, to speak with me because I had the temerity to challenge the qualification of voters who did not present proper ID. I could have been intimidated and gone home or I could have been infuriated and gotten arrested. Neither would have accomplished the ultimate goal of deterring fraud as both would have placed me outside the room. If your campaign does not have enough poll watchers to cover every polling location where you anticipate problems, assign teams of roving poll watchers and lawyers to cover them on a random basis and let the election supervisor know you will be checking in periodically.
(4) Assert the power of the provisional ballot! A provisional ballot is a ballot cast by a voter whose eligibility is in question. It allows an independent arbiter to determine the eligibility of the voter after voting is complete. If a voter whose eligibility is in question is allowed to cast a regular ballot, that vote is commingled with those of legitimate voters and it is not possible to remedy the situation if the voter is later determined to be ineligible.
(5) Fight for in-person voter ID laws that require the voter to present a state issued photo id that includes the voter’s address at an in-person voting location. This simple law would obviate much absentee ballot fraud, fraud where voters cast ballots in multiple locations, and fraud advocated by Congressman Moran’s son where criminals impersonate voters living and deceased to cast votes. As an election lawyer in Maine in 2008, I watched a student voter at the state university present a Sports Illustrated magazine label as proof of residence and then sign an affidavit that his girlfriend lived with him as proof of her residence. While both facts may have been true, there is no way to verify either independently or to have determined at the time whether either person had voted absentee in his home district.
Elections will never be without fraud. Too much power and money is at stake. If our sons and daughters are prepared to sacrifice their lives in the most desolate corners of the earth to preserve our freedom and our right to vote, the least we can do is take the proper measures to ensure that elections are conducted as honestly as possible.