Don't Replace the Income Tax -- Abolish
I enjoyed your recent front-page story about Rep. John Linders proposal for a 23% sales tax to replace the income tax. While Linders Fair Tax proposal would be better in many ways than our current awful system, I think it is seriously flawed and is far from the best tax reform we could have.
Linder seems to think the major problems with the income tax are IRS abuses, red tape, and the cost of collecting the tax. While those are indeed serious problems, they arent the main ones. By far the worst thing about the income tax is simply that it provides the federal government with an unbelievably huge amount of money. With this money, the federal government has grown so massive and so powerful that it today routinely interferes in every aspect of our personal and economic lives, while at the same time butting into the political and military conflicts of seemingly every nation large and small around the globe.
This sort of all-powerful, omnipresent government is the virtual opposite of the tiny, barely visible federal government our Founding Fathers envisioned and Linders sales tax scheme would do little or nothing to fix this. Indeed, his sales tax is deliberately designed to supply the government with the same amount of money it currently gets, or perhaps even more.
A far better tax reform measure has been introduced by Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas), a libertarian (he ran for President in 1988 on the Libertarian Party ticket). Its called The Liberty Amendment (H.J.RES.116), and Congressman Paul hopes it will become the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The Liberty Amendment would do two things. First, it would prohibit the federal government from participating in all activities not specifically authorized in the Constitution. This would lead to a gigantic reduction in the size and scope of government, with many of todays biggest, most intrusive government programs being eliminated.
Second, the Liberty Amendment would repeal the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution -- the amendment that allows the collection of the income tax. In other words, no more income tax and no IRS. And no 23% national sales tax or flat tax to replace them, either.
The dramatically smaller federal government Congressman Paul envisions would be paid for by remaining taxes, like import/export taxes, without increasing them. If that sounds unlikely, remember that America didn't even have an income tax until 1914 -- and without an income tax we grew to become the richest, freest, and most powerful country in the history of the world. Even after the income tax was passed, for many decades it applied only to the wealthiest Americans.
Congressman Paul says the Liberty Amendment -- which has been introduced in Congress several times during the past few decades, and endorsed at different times by several state legislatures, including Georgia -- now "has a chance of success..." because of "the mood of the country in favor of a more limited, constitutional government which respects individual liberty."
The Liberty Amendment would drive a stake into the heart of the income tax and Big Government, in one blow. Compared to it, Linders 23% sales tax sounds positively socialist. It tells you a lot about the current crop of Republicans that not a single one so far has joined Congressman Paul in support of this truly bold effort to reign in the federal behemoth.
To learn more about the Liberty Amendment, visit Congressman Paul's Web site at: http://www.house.gov/paul/. Or write him at: The Office of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, 203 Cannon HOB, Washington, DC 20515.
James W. Harris
(Cartersville Daily Tribune, December 1999)