“The FairTax, at its heart, is simple enough: It would take almost every federal tax and replace them with a fat 30 percent sales tax on everything. Virtually every American would get a monthly check from the government to cover the cost of paying the tax on essentials. It’s a radical idea, but one which since its first introduction to Congress in 1999 has been a favorite of conservative Republicans. Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA) already has 23 co-sponsors for the current iteration. Prominent party figures like Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, John McCain, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain have all championed the idea over the years.
Not surprisingly, liberal groups who judge the proposal regressive are against it. But so are many enthusiastic conservative tax-cutters, like the Wall Street Journal editorial board and Grover Norquist. Here’s what National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru had to say about it:
“Any House Republican who backs this bill can accurately be accused of voting for … raising the price of everything by a huge amount at a time when inflation is already high; shifting more of the tax burden to the middle class; instituting a large new wealth tax on senior citizens; increasing federal spending by a massive amount; increasing the deficit; and creating large black markets.””
“he FairTax gets rid of the personal and corporate income taxes, and the estate tax, which are the three most progressive taxes in the federal code. For most poor people, the personal income tax already gives them money through provisions like the earned income tax credit or the child tax credit. Getting rid of it means all those benefits go away.
At the top end, the rich go from paying a top rate of 40.8 percent on their wages, as well as 23.8 percent on their income from investments, to just paying the 30 percent tax on everything they buy. But wealthy people save more of their income than non-wealthy people do, and everything they save would be tax-free. By one measure, rich people in the 2010s saved 8.5 percent of their income, while the bottom 90 percent had a negative savings rate, spending 2.8 percent more than they earned.
I know of no credible estimates of the distributional impact of the FairTax, if it were to replace income and payroll taxes, but when the Bush administration appointed a panel to study tax reform proposals, it concluded that using the tax to replace the income tax alone would sharply raise taxes on the middle class.”
“Assuming a reasonable amount of tax evasion (20 percent) — and the question of evasion is important, as you’ll see — he found that the FairTax would increase the deficit by about $10.6 trillion over 10 years. In order to avoid increasing the deficit 10 years later, the FairTax would have to be set at 64.4 percent.”
“I wouldn’t be so quick to reject sales taxes more broadly. There’s a reason every rich country except the US has a value-added tax: It’s a very efficient, easy-to-administer way to raise lots of money for progressive social programs like universal health care, child allowances, long-term care, and more.
Gale, the FairTax critic, is actually a vocal advocate for adopting a VAT in the US. I like his idea of pairing a 10 percent VAT with a small universal basic income to make sure low-income people come out ahead. He estimates the bottom 20 percent of earners would see their incomes rise by nearly 17 percent as a result, while households with income above $90,000 or so would pay more. If you use some of the revenue to pay for the now-expired expanded child tax credit, the net effect would likely be a substantial reduction in poverty.
You could also, as Columbia professor Michael Graetz and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) have proposed, use the VAT to exempt all but the wealthiest individuals from the income tax, by creating standard deductions of $50,000 or $100,000 for couples. This isn’t as progressive as using it for a UBI, but it would vastly simplify income tax collection and enable the large majority of Americans to not worry about filing taxes ever.”
“In addition to Republicans’ pledge to slice $130 billion from the $1.7 trillion government funding package that passed in December, conservatives want to take the process old-school. Rather than passing one massive bill, they’re calling for individual votes on the dozen appropriations bills that set annual budgets for different agencies, a more time-consuming but transparent procedure that recent Congresses have struggled to complete.
They’re also planning to allow an amendment free-for-all, which is all but certain to further drag out or trip things up.
Additionally, House Republicans say they’ll refuse to negotiate with the Senate until the upper chamber passes its own spending bills, which hasn’t happened in years. Typically, Senate appropriators have instead entered into bipartisan talks with their House counterparts, only burning valuable floor time on a package they’re certain would pass both chambers.
And GOP demands expand beyond funding the government. Republicans say they won’t back a debt limit increase unless they get their way on spending cuts or measures to reign in the ever-increasing $31 trillion debt. The timing of that could be tricky, however, as the Treasury Department could hit its credit card limit this summer, while federal cash expires on Sept. 30.
A debt ceiling hike will arguably make for a much bigger battle in Congress, leaving even less time and patience for bipartisan talks on funding the government.”
“meaningful concession is McCarthy’s reported agreement to reserve three seats for hard-core conservatives on the House Rules Committee. The Rules Committee is one of the most powerful committees in the House — setting the rules (duh) of debates, choosing which pieces of legislation to bring up to a vote and even rewriting legislation that has already passed another committee. If the Rules Committee maintains its traditional partisan composition — nine members of the majority party, four of the minority — then it could have six McCarthy-aligned Republicans, three insurgent Republicans and four Democrats, which means that McCarthy-aligned Republicans would constitute a minority on the committee. In the words of one conservative activist, that would effectively make the Rules Committee a “European-style coalition government” where the hard-right bloc is like a third party, and McCarthy and his allies would have to negotiate with them (or Democrats) to get anything done.
This, in turn, could make it more likely that the federal government shuts down and/or defaults on its debt in 2023. The insurgent wing of the GOP was at the center of the government shutdown fight in 2013 and the debt ceiling fight in 2011, and McCarthy has agreed to fight for their preferred spending cuts here in 2023. But of course, nothing can become law without buy-in from the Democrats who still control the Senate and the White House, who are about as ideologically far removed from the conservative hardliners as it gets.”
“Inflation, abortion, the economy, and crime were the top issues for voters overall, the poll notes. Voters who saw inflation as the sole election issue broke for Republicans. Voters who also cared about abortion and jobs as top issues (but still cared about inflation) broke for Democrats.
The big lesson for Republican candidates comes further down the results when they asked people who voted Republican what their reasons were behind the vote. The very top reason people voted for Republicans was to “reduce government spending and get inflation under control.” Forty-nine percent of the people who voted Republican in the survey tagged this as their reason. It was followed by crime fears, immigration fears tied to the flow of drugs (even though it’s almost never immigrants who are responsible for drug trafficking at the border), and bolstering domestic energy production and getting gas prices down.
All the way at the bottom of the list was culture war agitation. Only 21 percent said they voted for Republicans to “combat cancel culture and protect freedom of speech.” Only 20 percent said they voted for Republicans to “keep transgender athletes out of girls’ sports teams and stop the promotion of transgender surgeries on our children.” Parents’ rights and getting “political agendas” out of classrooms fared a little better but still drove less than a third of Republican votes.”
“LGBTQ advocates chafe at the fact that the bill does not truly codify a national right to same-sex marriage, instead repealing the Defense of Marriage Act and requiring all states to recognize marriages performed in other states should the high court reverse its earlier ruling. Supportive Republicans may not have gone further than they did, and the bill only squeaked by Tuesday, 61-36.”
“It’s now clear the speaker was the target of Friday’s attack. The assailant broke into the home looking for her, reportedly shouting, “Where is Nancy?” — echoing what insurrectionists called out when they breached the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 — and saying that he would wait “until Nancy got home” as he confronted Paul Pelosi. The speaker’s husband suffered a skull fracture and serious injuries to his right arm and hands that required surgery after the assailant bludgeoned him with a hammer. The attacker faces federal assault and attempted kidnapping charges. (A spokesperson for the speaker said in a statement that Paul Pelosi is expected to make a full recovery.)
Republicans have dismissed any connection between their rhetoric and the attack. Instead, they’ve blamed Democratic policies on crime and suggested that growing political violence may be the result of general anxiety around election legitimacy. Elon Musk, the billionaire Tesla CEO who was cheered by Republicans when he bought Twitter last week, has advanced a right-wing anti-LGBTQ conspiracy theory around the circumstances of the attack. Though he deleted his post, it remained on Twitter long enough to be amplified and repeated by many on the right.
Even before Pelosi became speaker, Republicans in the party and those adjacent to it have demonized her regularly, featuring her in attack ads and lambasting her on Fox News. At least one of her colleagues in the House, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), has directly indicated support for violence against her. And members of right-wing militia groups such as the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters have sought her assassination.
Police haven’t gone into further detail about the attacker’s motivations, but his Facebook posts on conspiracy theories around Covid-19 vaccines, the 2020 election, and the January 6 attack provide a window into his radicalization. Other blog posts under his name contained screeds against minorities, politicians, women, and global elites, and content related to QAnon — the false pro-Trump conspiracy theory that a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles, including prominent Democrats like Pelosi, are running the world.
None of those posts reference Pelosi specifically, but all of them intersect with the ways she has been a familiar target of the right — and not just on the political fringes.”
“In Arizona, Senate nominee Blake Masters and likely gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake are Trump-endorsed 2020 election deniers. In Michigan, gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon is cut from a similar cloth. Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer, one of 10 House Republicans to vote for Trump’s impeachment in 2021, lost his bid for reelection to yet another Trump-endorsed Big Lie supporter (two other House impeachment supporters, Washington Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse, seemed on track to fend off Trump-backed challengers in Washington state’s open primary). Rusty Bowers, the Arizona House speaker and star January 6 committee witness, lost a state Senate primary to — you guessed it — a Trump-backed election conspiracist.
It’s a splash of cold water on the narrative of a waning Trump.
“Pundits trying to will into existence a GOP that has moved beyond him are way beyond the facts,” the Atlantic’s Ron Brownstein wrote on Wednesday morning. “This remains a Trump-ified GOP, with most openly embracing him and almost none openly confronting him.”
Brownstein is right. And he’s right for a fundamental reason: Trump’s vision of politics, a war between true Americans and a system that has betrayed them, describes how many Republican voters see the world.”
“The simplest barometer of whether Trump still dominates the party is the 2024 presidential polls. And by that metric, Trump’s grip is pretty hard to question.
The RealClearPolitics poll average has Trump leading the field by an average of 26.2 points. All but one national poll cataloged by FiveThirtyEight in July had Trump beating DeSantis by a similarly large double-digit margin (the sole outlier, from Suffolk University, had Trump ahead by a “mere” 9 points).
Granted, any challenger against an “incumbent” like Trump probably wouldn’t pop up on many voters’ radars this far ahead of an election. But much of the “Trump is slipping” coverage skips past all this vital context. For example, the New York Times recently ran a write-up of its poll with Siena College headlined “Half of G.O.P. Voters Ready to Leave Trump Behind, Poll Finds.” And indeed, the poll did find that 51 percent of Republicans would vote for someone other than Trump if the primary were held today.
Yet the headline is misleading. The Times poll found that Trump still commanded 49 percent support in the party; his next closest rival, DeSantis, garnered a mere 25 percent. In the article, reporter Michael Bender notes that the results show that “Mr. Trump maintains his primacy in the party,” contradicting the piece’s headline.”
“If you read studies of the American conservative movement, Trump’s continued strength should be no surprise. The political strength of the movement never came from its policy ideas. Many of its positions, like tax cuts for the rich and stringent abortion restrictions, have ultimately proven to be extremely unpopular.
Instead, its strength has been rooted in grievance: the bitterness of those who believe that modern America is changing too fast, beyond recognition, turning “traditional” citizens into aliens in their own country.
A charitable observer might call this sentiment nostalgia for a bygone America. A more critical one might call it the venting of reactionary white male rage against a more egalitarian country. But whatever your assessment, it is this politics of cultural grievance that animates the GOP base.”
“Since the 2020 election, millions of Republican voters have accepted former President Donald Trump’s false claim that the presidential election was stolen from him. And now, here in 2022, many Republican politicians have capitalized on this lie and have won elections of their own.
This election cycle, FiveThirtyEight is tracking the views of every Republican candidate for Senate, House, governor, attorney general and secretary of state on the legitimacy of the 2020 election. And now that we’re halfway through the primary season, we can say definitively that at least 120 election deniers have won their party’s nomination and will be on the ballot in the fall.”