We won’t see a VAT soon, but progressives have patience. Ideally, they would like America to be as much like Europe as possible before continental drift brings the continents together, but if there are still some details to clear up as the land masses come within hailing distance, fine. But it’s important to have alternatives to propose — so what can the GOP push?
The Standard Operating Revenue Overall Seizure, or SOROS tax. This would take every penny George Soros has in exchange for Sen. Max Baucus’ 125,000 acre ranch. Advantages: deeply satisfying. Disadvantages: only works once.
The flat tax. Everyone pays the same amount. Advantages: everyone knows what they owe. Disadvantages: ridiculously unfair, unless you take gazillionares like Bill Gates and declare him to be, in legal terms, 350,000 people. At least that would boost sales of the Zune.
The flat-rate tax. That’s more like it: everyone pays the same percentage, with the poor getting a break. Right now we have different brackets — hand, arm, leg, torso; this would mean everyone would have to pay a finger, or ten percent. Some people have bigger finger than others, so they’d pay more. Advantages: simple. Disadvantages: confused people mailing severed fingers every April 15th. Defenders of the ever-hungry Jabba the Fed would note that the upper classes still have enough for diamond-tipped stick pins and ostrich-egg omelettes, but let them shriek.
Would they raise enough money? I don’t know. But the point isn’t to design a tax system capable of supporting the government, but to devise the simplest, fairest tax code devoid of niggling manipulations, and tailor the government to fit the revenues. Heresy! Which is why you fear reform is doomed. What was the last enormous government program anyone succeeded in whittling down to something tiny and benign?
Besides the military. But we still don’t know if they’ll be successful with that project.