"The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people." - Woodrow Wilson
Rep. Johnson on Listening to FairTaxers
Congressman Woodall's recent Tax Day press conference, Congressman Hank Johnson
stopped by and spoke about why, although he was not endorsing the FairTax, he
was willing to have a dialogue about and listen to its' merits.
Congressman Johnson to share with you his thoughts on tax reform, the FairTax
and why he is willing to listen.
By Rep. Hank Johnson (D) GA-04
On April 15, I came upon
a group of sign-waving FairTax advocates as I was walking out of the Capitol
after delivering some comments on the House floor.
They were assembled at
the spot where press conferences always take place. Upon my approach, I saw Congressman
Rob Woodall of Georgia, for whom I have great respect. I decided to join them,
to demonstrate my solidarity with those calling for comprehensive tax reform.
I am not an expert on
tax law. However, I know that the tax code is unfair, deceptive, and
deliberately complex. Of course, there are some necessary incentives imbedded
in the tax code, which benefit overall public policy. Deductions for charitable
contributions and mortgage interest come to mind. I also know that the tax code
is riddled with arcane language that conceals innumerable exemptions and
exceptions that benefit special interests, with little rational justification
for their continued existence -- subsidies for Big Oil and special treatment
for unearned income.
The current tax system
operates to exempt the wealthy, individually and through various business
entities, from having to pay a fair share of the income tax burden, and much
too often, to avoid paying any income taxes whatsoever. This is wrong, it is
immoral, and as a member of Congress it is my responsibility to be on the side
of what is right, proper and just.
Otherwise, I am
misrepresenting the people who have elected me to represent them. The
overwhelming majority of the people who elected me are middle class, working
Americans. They are being mistreated when the wealthy get tax breaks and they
are forced to pay more than their fair share of the tax burden. I have held
several district meetings with proponents of the FairTax, and I believe they
feel the same way that I do.
My constituents, some of
whom support the FairTax, deserve to be heard, and it is my responsibility to
be a voice for them in Congress. However, I also know that we may disagree as
to the role and reach of government in our lives. Knowing that there should be
no disagreement that all income levels should pay their fair share of the tax
burden, it was quite natural that I take that opportunity to demonstrate with
those calling for a fundamental change in America’s tax policy.
I am open to the idea of
a consumption tax system or a value-added tax system to replace the current
income tax system. I support a careful look at them all, and I believe that the
FairTax is a serious plan that deserves careful consideration. In the
final analysis, I will support tax reform that takes a holistic view of our
economy and ensures that working Americans pay only their fair share. Our tax
code must encourage honest citizens to innovate and create wealth while
ensuring that government has the resources to create a level playing field.
special interests who have written the current tax code to their own benefit
wield enormous influence over the Republican and, to a lesser extent, the
Democratic parties. Campaign contributions and corporate spending to influence
elections play an outsize role in shaping public policy in America. Without
fundamental campaign finance reform, entrenched special interests will continue
to spend enormous sums of money to protect the current tax policies. This is why,
despite the fact that the typical FairTax supporter votes Republican or
Libertarian, the FairTax been has never been the subject of serious discussion
in Congress even though Republicans have controlled the House for 16 of the
last 20 years.
I will continue to
dialogue with supporters of the FairTax and others about how to fix our broken
tax code. I look forward to continuing to work with Rep. Woodall to
overhaul our tax system.
Rep. Johnson practiced
civil and criminal law in DeKalb County, Ga., for 27 years. Rep. Johnson is a
former county commissioner and magistrate judge. He is married to Attorney
Mereda Davis Johnson and has two children. Georgia’s 4th Congressional District
includes portions of DeKalb, Rockdale and Gwinnett counties in the eastern
suburbs of Atlanta.