Sulli v. Daily Howler on the Flat Tax

Andrew Sullivan turned Alan Keyes moralist in this rant suggesting progressive taxation amounts to discrimination. Then again – Sulli also thinks the right of privacy (as in Roe v. Wade) is a sin.

Bob Somerby turns his shape eye on Sulli’s flat tax rant in his latest Daily Howler:

No mainstream pol has ever proposed a tax in which “we’re all taxed at the same proportionate rate.” And no mainstream pol has ever proposed a plan which eliminates “progressive taxation.” Because the “flat tax” seems to be back, let’s make sure we understand how mainstream “flat tax” plans really work. In 1996, Steve Forbes proposed a “flat tax” plan as part of his surprisingly successful run for the White House. But did Forbes propose a plan in which “we’re all taxed at the same proportionate rate?” Most assuredly, no—he did not. Forbes’ plan did involve a single tax rate for computational purposes—17 percent—but it included hefty personal exemptions. As a result, for a family of four, the first $36,000 of income would have been exempt from taxation.

But is Steve Forbes a liberal? Let’s see what Forbes wrote:

The first element is dramatic pro-growth tax cuts. I’m not talking “revenue neutral” fiddling with the tax code, the usual game in Washington that pretends to cut some taxes while raising others. And I’m not talking about fiddling around the “margins” cutting taxes that only help the well-to-do. I am talking about across-the-board tax cuts that are deep and wide and permanent, that reach down to all Americans and get the suffocating weight of the IRS off their backs. Start by scrapping the tax code. Don’t fiddle with it. Junk it. Throw it out. Bury it. Replace it with a pro-growth, pro-family tax cut that lowers tax rates to 17% across the board and expands exemptions for individuals and children so that a family of four would pay no taxes on the first $36,000 of income. Not one cent to the IRS on the first $36,000. Anything over that would be taxed at a flat, fair 17%. The flat tax would be simple. You could fill it out on a postcard. It would be honest. It would eliminate the principal source of political corruption in Washington. It would be fair. Millions of people would be off the federal income tax rolls. There would be no tax on Social Security. No tax on pensions. No tax on personal savings. It would zero out capital gains taxes.

So no taxation on capital income. I still think Sulli deserves the mocking he is getting but let’s not pretend that Steve Forbes wants to tax Bill Gates at a higher rate than the average worker.