One idea, the Fair Tax, is a grass-roots idea that has been building steam for years. The other, a value-added tax, is a European import being talked up by liberal elites as the answer to all our government's problems.
Which idea do you think will get traction in the national media?
The VAT, of course. It's so continental!
Billionaires Bill Gates and Berkshire Hathaway Chief Executive Warren Buffett, and Buffett partner Charlie Munger, recently said the European-style value-added tax -- a tax on goods at every stage of their manufacture and distribution -- is pretty much inevitable in the United States.
Wow. Grass-roots Americans can work for years on something like the Fair Tax -- a national retail sales tax that would more fairly spread the tax burden and even reduce it -- but the elites have a better idea, and that's what we'll likely get.
And consider this bone-jarring endorsement of the value-added tax from Buffett: "In the end we are not taxing enough, unfortunately, or we're spending too much, probably some of each."
Do you feel undertaxed?
Buffett and friends believe the U.S. government needs more money for the country to be more competitive in the world. Oddly enough, this editorial page believes the American people need more of their own money for the country to be truly competitive.
And consider this telling, yet tepid endorsement of the value-added tax by Munger: "The people that are against it are against it because they think it will work too well, that the politicians will get too much money and do too many dumb things with it, and there is a good deal to be said for that point of view."
Wow. We'll just let that one digest.
Buffett adds: "We've got a gap of 10 percentage points between what we're raising in taxes and what we're spending. One way or another we are going to have to close that gap in a major way, so if some of those taxes fall on me, or some fall on Berkshire, that's probably the way it should be."
Just to clarify: The people pushing the value-added tax believe the federal government desperately needs more of your money. The people supporting the Fair Tax are more concerned with the people who are paying the taxes.
Which side do you fall on?
If you're on the fence, consider: The Fair Tax -- levied just once per product, at the point of purchase -- would replace all income taxes, payroll taxes, gift taxes and the death tax on family estates, and would ultimately abolish the Internal Revenue Service. The value-added tax does none of that -- and would actually be in addition to all those other taxes.
Still on the fence?
The VAT cannot logically be argued to be superior to the Fair Tax -- from a taxpayer's point of view, that is. Therein lies the rub: The value-added tax isn't intended to help people; it's intended to shore up big government, a la Europe.
Yet, because elitists -- many of whom have made their fortunes and now want to pull up the rope -- like the idea of a VAT, the proposal is apparently going to move to the fore.
If only we could have a series of national debates and news reports comparing the two approaches.
We're pretty sure the Fair Tax camp would welcome that. Will the VAT camp?