Repealing the 16th Amendment


Does Rick Perry really think we should repeal the 16th Amendment and completely eliminate the income tax? This has been making the rounds, so I got curious. Here’s what he says in his book:

This leads me to the great milestone on the road to serfdom: the passage of the Sixteenth Amendment….This was the birth of wealth redistribution in the United States.

….[One] option would be to repeal the Sixteenth Amendment [] and then pursue an alternative model of taxation such as a national sales tax or the Fair Tax….America needs a fairer, flatter, and simpler system, one which working families can complete without having to hire a bevy of professionals to assist them.

So that’s the skinny. Obviously Perry doesn’t think very highly of the 16th Amendment and believes that repealing it is an “option.” That’s pretty loopy, but it’s actually what comes next that’s really loopy: he’d like to replace all federal taxes with the Fair Tax, a proposal that basically levies a 30% sales tax on all goods and services — including housing, healthcare, food, and everything else. Mike Huckabee was touting this nitwit idea back in 2007, and Bruce Bartlett shredded it here pretty conclusively. My comment at the time:

What’s really amazing is that Bruce can write a thousand words on this subject and maintain a calm and even demeanor throughout. After all, among serious tax analysts a national sales tax ranks right up there with eliminating the Fed and putting the United States back on the gold standard. It’s crankery. And yet it keeps rearing its ugly head, like a vampire that just won’t die. Anybody got a silver bullet handy?

This is really scary. At the time, I assumed that eliminating the Fed and putting the United States back on the gold standard were so obviously stupid that they were good examples of transparent economic crankery. But guess what? Both of those cretinous ideas have gained a lot of traction among Republicans lately. So it’s hardly any wonder that at least one of their candidates has reanimated the zombie Fair Tax proposal too. I wonder what’s next? No one’s mentioned fluoride in the drinking water lately, have they?

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