You could help balance the budget with tax reform, so if the Amendment Convention chose to do so, it would be within the scope of the call.
The Reagan Initiative — a supply side BBA — was created out of necessity. We won’t get to 34 without it. I believe the two additional elements, land transfers and regulatory reform, will be opposed primarily by the environmentalists. If you’re going to do land transfers you may as well do regulatory reform — you’re pissing off the same people,, so what the hell? Go for broke.
Adding tax reform to the Convention agenda is a different story, which is why I’ve opposed it. There are a whole lot of people who would be afraid of true tax reform, primarily the entire beltway establishment. These are people who could go along with regulatory reform and land transfers, but would balk at tax reform. That’s bad politics. You want to keep your opposition to a minimum, and build support for your side. It’s arithmetic. If we added tax reform, would we get additional support? Would that support offset the increase in the opposition?
It would fire up a whole lot of people. The enthusiasm for abolishing the IRS is real. Land transfers and regulatory reform don’t get people jacked up like repealing the tax code. That’s exciting.
The people who really know the answer to these questions are the Presidents of the Maine and Washington Senates, Michael Thibodeau and Pam Roach, and Minnesota Speaker Kurt Daudt. We’ll need all three states to get to 38 for ratification. If they tell us we can add tax reform, we should give it some serious thought.
The kind of tax reform we’d propose is, to me, almost a completely political question. How much can we get away with? How flat can we go?
Here’s an idea. In the tax reform section of the BBA, put in a provision that strips Congress of the power to impose new taxes for ten years. Any new taxes, of any kind. If there need to be tax increases in this ten year period, require the preapproval of a majority of the state legislatures. Allow Congress to petition the states for permission to impose a new tax. If they get 26 Resolutions giving approval, they’ve got a green light. Otherwise, no new taxes. Period. Zero, zilch, nada.
I’ll bet that would appeal to people. I know damn well it would appeal to state legislators. The more I think about it, the more I like it.
Maybe it’s time to go bold. Maybe this is a truly special political moment, where amazing things are possible. I’ve talked a lot about running with the tide.
What if it’s a rip tide?