The justice and injustice of FairTax

published by The Boston Globe, January 9, 2008

IN HIS op-ed of Jan. 5, "What's foul about the FairTax," Bruce Bartlett makes a number of erroneous comments about the FairTax, a proposal supported by Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee that would replace almost all existing federal taxes with a sales tax.

Bartlett's most egregious error is his claim that, because it would be imposed on government spending, the FairTax would raise the cost of government. We published research months ago showing that claim to be false.

Bartlett claims that the FairTax rebate is too "modest," while our research shows that the FairTax would be progressive. He claims that the FairTax would raise prices by 30 percent but dismisses that fact that it would then also increase take-home pay by 30 percent.

Bartlett accuses FairTax sponsors of being deceptive because they calculate the FairTax rate to be 23 percent. But the 30 percent rate that he prefers to cite is equivalent to theirs, a fact they have never tried to hide.

So who is being deceptive here?

Actually, we already know the answer to that question. Bartlett's column should be dismissed as the quackery that it is, lest voters deceive themselves on a matter of importance in choosing a future president.

DAVID G. TUERCK, Boston. The writer is executive director of the Beacon Hill Institute.

I'M SURPRISED that Bruce Bartlett omitted one of the most odious aspects of any flat tax: the larger the income, the smaller the percent of your income you pay in taxes. People with smaller incomes spend all or most of their income on the costs of their living, so their effective tax rate would be the 30 percent that Bartlett discusses. People with high incomes have more savings and other investments that would not be taxed, so their effective tax rate would be smaller and smaller as their incomes and investments got larger and larger.

MARILYN FRANKENSTEIN, Boston. The writer is a professor of quantitative reasoning at the University of Massachusetts at Boston.

RE: BRUCE Bartlett's depiction of the FairTax. He left out the one his ideological ilk see as the most threatening; if every American was charged an extra 30 percent at the point of purchase they would be confronted every day with just how much government costs them. This would inevitably lead to a heightened interest in where all of this money is going.

© Copyright 2008 Globe Newspaper Company

This Letter to the Editor was originally published by The Boston Globe.


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