Monday, August 13, 2007

Huckabee; FairTax

In response to the previous post about Mike Huckabee's second-place finish in the Iowa Straw Poll, reader Ian comments:

    Huckabee puts listeners at ease, and reassures them through clear concepts and a natural, integrated manner of communication (no doubt something well-cultivated as a pastor). He’s not demanding, like a Ron Paul, nor is he as “well-scripted” as Romney, nor as mechanical-squinty like Brownback.

    Most importantly, Huckabee convinces many that he is ONE with the FairTax grassroots movement. While many - like Romney, and others, who are invested in the current income tax system - seek to demagog the well-researched FairTax plan, its acceptance in the professional / academic community continues to grow. Failure to enact the FairTax - choosing instead to try to "flatten" a NON-FLATTENABLE income tax system - will result in an irrevocable economic meltdown!
Which brings me to why Huckabee will not be president.

A fundamental, all-at-once overhaul of this nation's tax structure is a non-starter in the current political environment. The tax code, while always of interest to one degree or another, is simply not where the passions of Americans lie right now. At this moment in history, the American imagination is consumed with one issue: national security.

Maybe in a world where people are not literally afraid of being blown up today, tomorrow, or the next day, there would be enough room in the national consciousness for a debate about the tax structure. But if Steve Forbes couldn't make Americans feel invested in the idea of a flat tax in 1996, during the peace and prosperity of the Clinton years, Mike Huckabee cannot sell it in 2008. Frankly, he would do just as well to base his campaign on a return to the gold standard.

Even if the FairTax movement constitutes a significant portion of the GOP primary electorate, which I do not grant by any means, the general election environment is not fertile ground for any such discussion.

If Huckabee really wants to capture the national imagination with a Big Idea, he should try energy indpendence - something which relates directly to national security, and which one could reasonably present as a relief to the omnipresent dread of terrorism that George W. Bush has spent six years cultivating.

If Barack Obama's campaign of Hope succeeds in lifting the fog of fear from the American mind, FairTax advocates could find people at least willing to discuss the issue in 2012. The pragmatic, reassuring competence of a President Hillary Clinton could make Americans receptive to such a debate as well.

But there are only so many Big Ideas that Americans have the energy to care about, and at this particular moment, a complete overhaul of the tax code will have to stand in line and wait its turn. If Huckabee wants to be seen as a credible candidate for the presidency, rather than as a one-issue sideshow, he will accept that fact sooner rather than later.


Wendell Murray said...

As the article in the WSJ (the WSJ article provides a link to this blog) notes, consumption taxes are highly regressive and inappropriate as a substitute for income taxes that have progressively higher rates as income rises. Tax reform such as this is inevitably proposed by the "nutcase" wealthy who somehow believe that its income and wealth are god-given rather than permitted and effectively tolerated by the remainder of society through custom and law. A previous entry in this blog contends that American society is focused overwhelmingly on the single issue of "national security". It is not. The only reason why so-called national security issues are on people's minds, if at all, is because of the continual propaganda about supposed "threats" to national security, mainly fomented by the current Administration. Terrorism and the implicit "threat" to national security posed by it are in fact non-existent issues for virtually all people. "Terrorism" as a political "brand" has been trumpeted by the nitwit right-wing which is embodied by the current Administration and most of the Republicans in Congress, not to mention Mr. Giuliani and most of the other Republican Presidential candidates. Real threats to US citizens, not to mention mankind in general, are from global warming induced by the Industrial Age, war-mongering by many governments, non least the current US Administration but also many other governments in the world, phoney "free-market" ideology, organized religion, Islam and Christianity most notably, among many other issues.