Rasmussen Poll Suggests FairTax Roadmap

Nearly half of Americans favor replacing the income tax with a consumption tax.

A few weeks ago the Rasmussen Poll found that 43 percent of Americans favor replacing the income tax system with an undefined national consumption tax! That’s real progress.

The poll was commissioned by an anonymous client to figure out whether a Value Added Tax (VAT) on top of the income tax system would fly with the public. It doesn't. The idea had been floated out of Washington the week before the poll. Only 18% of those polled favor such a bad idea.

The idea of a VAT to pay for health care reform has been getting attention recently at the White House and in Congress and someone wanted to know how it would be received by the public. Most European countries, after all, use a VAT on top of their income tax systems. A VAT collects further taxes at each stage in the production, manufacturing and distribution process. It is a highly effective government strategy to further "embed" (and hide) taxes and the cost of government in the retail price of goods and services. Unlike the FairTax, the VAT is highly regressive, hides even more taxes from the public and has been put in place by government officials hungry for more dollars instead of by popular demand.

About the only thing that the FairTax and the VAT have in common is that they are both taxes based on consumption.

Interestingly and perhaps not surprisingly, most support for a national consumption tax in the USA (even an undefined one) comes from Republicans and Independents according to Rasmussen. Democrats are highly suspect of such an idea. This has long been a frustration for FairTax.org because, as we all well know, the FairTax helps everyone but probably helps those who are traditionally Democrat more than anyone else.

So why is Democratic support for the FairTax so weak? One word: polarization. These days, few ideas supported by Republicans have much chance for fair consideration by the left (and vice versa). Once most Democrats hear that Joe the Plumber, Neal Boortz and Mike Huckabee support the FairTax or when they take a look at Congressional support, they wrongly assume that such an idea does not even merit investigation. That is why we so often hear or read that the FairTax is, "regressive and unfair to the poor". What is really revealed is someone who has not read page 2 about the FairTax prebate, elimination of highly regressive FICA taxes or the fact that the FairTax is far more progressive than the income tax system. For Pete's sake--it reimburses all federal taxes on those below the poverty line.

We love Neal, Herman Cain, Joe and Huck and will always value their advocacy of the FairTax, of course. Our support base grows because of them. But one side of the political spectrum will never be enough to enact the FairTax or repeal the 16th amendment so we had better find effective ways to reach across the political divide. Otherwise, we stump along on two unevenly sized legs.

The Rasmussen poll, while collecting information from the public about an entirely different and inferior form of consumption tax, has nevertheless given FairTaxers a peek into our national progress--and a roadmap for momentum. As satisfying as it may be to rail together against all those either ignorant or willfully blind people who can’t see the merits of the FairTax, our work is clearly needed to illuminate the idea to those now in the dark. That means newspapers, union members, teachers, community advocates and even local party officials.

It goes to the heart of what really makes America great.

Our passionate differences of opinion on the direction of the country have been happening from the moment we formed our great experiment in free speech, religious freedom and self-determination. I, for one, believe it is the argument, itself, that has made our nation so strong. The American people usually consider freely spoken differing points of view and usually find the right path. Those differences don't disappear because of the FairTax but this is an unusual issue where we can fin d broad agreement despite differences in political philosophy--if we just talk to each other. It requires setting aside the passions that have divided us in the past. For the FairTax advocate, it requires patience, cheerfulness and an understanding that mistrust must be overcome for real progress to occur.

But restoring the proper role between citizen and government, making the cost of the federal government highly visible, saving American jobs and putting our economy on a path of robust growth for the good of every American is something that most Americans can agree about. Once we talk about it, it's not our neighbors who will slow progress on the FairTax; it is those in Washington, D.C. who profit so handsomely from the income tax system. The real battle here is between self-interest and the national interest.

The "political class" is adept at pitting us against each other and never so effectively as in debates about taxes. Let's face it--anger and indignation turn people out and win races. Our challenge, made clear in the Rasmussen poll, is to reach across the partisan divide and find common ground with those outside government. Not only is the FairTax good for all but no one from either party wants to be played for a chump by political power brokers. And, for all our differences of opinion, the plain fact is, we have more in common as Americans than we sometimes remember.

Those on the political left and the right have shed blood in defense of this country since our birth as a nation. Bravery, loyalty, invention, productivity and fair play are American virtues without respect to party affiliation. On the other hand, politicians on both the left and the right spend our money and our children's money to buy our votes like there is no tomorrow. If there is a growing "difference" it is between those who consider themselves "American royalty" and all the rest of us. When this perspective begins to take hold, pundits, politicians and their savvy consultants start sneering at "populist" sentiments as if it were a form of communism. Both parties are equally threatened by the potential of the American people becoming unified.

The political class includes crooks and liars from both parties and always has. And to be fair, politicians from the left and right have been heroes and villains. The true genius of the American Republic can be found, however, not in Washington but in hometowns from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine. It is where our best ideas come from, where our companies grow, where people are still basically decent and where the political elite can be held accountable to the people.

If we want to see the FairTax enacted, we will have to reach across the political divide to begin speaking as one united American people. From many--one. This is how--and the only way--to overcome the destructive power of the new political "aristocracy"--both Republicans and Democrats--who put themselves above the best interests of the nation and that, of course, includes Democrats, Libertarians, Independents and Republicans, alike.


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