Taxes & Spending

The Tax Code is the Key: Bring the FairTax to the Floor

On the Tuesday before the election, Rep. Tom Price (R–Ga), who is now chair of the Republican Policy Committee, said, “we need to bring bills to the floor (if we take back the Congress) that we don’t know what the outcome will be.  We need some good old-fashioned debate.” I couldn’t agree more, and we need to be bold and sunset the current tax code and then replace it.

Last week, Connie Hair talked to Rep. Dave Camp (R–Mi) about his priorities in the 112th Congress.  Camp is the ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee and will be the chairman in the next congress. He puts the repeal of ObamaCare and a rewrite of the tax code as his top priorities.

Let’s hope Dave Camp helps this Congress deliver on those priorities. Rep. John Linder (R–Ga), the father of the FairTax, is retiring from Congress this year.  However, he hasn’t stopped the fight for the implementation of the FairTax (H. R. 25).  In addition, his chief of staff, Rob Woodall, was just elected to replace him.  Rob has been intimately involved in the bill, “The FairTax Book,” and the FairTax movement from the beginning.

While the extension of the Bush Tax Cuts must be job one, as they expire on January 1 of this year, following up with bold action to sunset and replace the current U. S. Tax Code must be high up on the list. 

In election cycles before 2010, opponents of the FairTax have been able to use candidates’ support of the FairTax against them successfully.  In 2010, that wasn’t the case:  In the races in which Democrats ran ads demonizing their Republican opponents’ support of the FairTax, the ads didn’t succeed.

It is conventional wisdom that the movement needs a presidential candidate to champion the cause.  Last go-around, former Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Senator Mike Gravel supported the FairTax. Huckabee was as conservative as Gravel was liberal, so it showed the potential for support of the plan across the board.  On the current list of possible candidates, Gov. Mike Huckabee and former CEO Herman Cain appear as the early supporters of the FairTax plan.

It’s clear that Congressman-Elect Rob Woodall will be the standard bearer in the new Congress.  He says the discussions have started with leadership on the FairTax. “And, of course, one of the real hallmarks, I think, of the Republican House over the next few years is going to be openness.  John Boehner, assuming he is elected Speaker—and no one has announced they are going to challenge him yet—has said we are going to have the most open House in history.  We are going to allow unlimited amendments on appropriations bills.  We are going to allow the committee process to work its will,” Woodall said last week.

Woodall continued, “There has been a sense in the past that if you bring the FairTax to the floor and it fails, that it’s somehow bad for the FairTax.  I’m taking a different message up this year, which is, we need to vote on the FairTax.  We need to understand where folks are, and failing to get a majority is not failure.  That just tells you where it is you have to concentrate your efforts going forward.” Woodall believe that the best plan is to bring the FairTax to the floor, to get members on record, and then to assess where things stand.  No more “wink and a nod” pseudo-promises.  Woodall wants a list of supporters who will be accountable for following through on their earlier representations.

What does John Boehner think about the FairTax? Woodall says, “Mr. Boehner is like a lot of folks who absolutely recognize the power of the FairTax for change.  But his job is to herd what looks like to be 240 cats on Capitol Hill in the same direction.  So he would say, and has said, I want the committee process to sort these things out.”

Woodall is undaunted by this process.  He says, “so let’s go and have this discussion.  Let’s debate the flat tax as Paul Ryan has put it together.  Let’s debate the FairTax.  Let’s have these discussions, and let’s let the people work their will.  We’re going to find out whether we’re working in the realm of the doable or in the realm of the bold.  And I think that’s an open question.  I’m not sure, myself, which direction Congress is going to go over these next two years, but I know these 80-plus new freshmen members of Congress got elected promising to work in the realm of the bold—to do those things that are right, irrespective of the political consequences of doing them.  And that’s what is going to get the FairTax to the floor.”

Rob Woodall has the same positive attitude that his old boss, John Linder, had.  It will be a long battle in a very long war to get the FairTax passed and implemented.  In this new Congress, if they are serious, anything can happen. Are they going to be bold or to settle for the status quo?

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