Some Dems Running Misleading Ads About FairTax Proposal

November 2, 2010

The FairTax is one of many tax reform proposals on the table in the United States. The proposal would replace the federal individual income, corporate income, and payroll taxes with a national sales tax, along with a “prebate” refund issued to each American.

It’s an issue because in about a dozen congressional districts, Democratic candidates have run variations of ads attacking FairTax supporters for wanting to impose a national sales tax:

The attack ads have run in dozens of congressional districts, often with remarkably similar scripts: The Republican candidate, the ad says, “supports a 23% tax on groceries, on gas – even on medicine.”

The ads have run in at least 36 House and Senate races, according to a USA TODAY tally. Most came from either Democratic candidates or the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, but the National Education Association and the Service Employees International Union also targeted GOP candidates. Some of the candidates attacked in the ads have never supported the proposal, or have said only that it’s worth exploring.

Alan Nunnelee, running against Rep. Travis Childers, D-Miss., has not answered repeated questions – including several from the Associated Press – about whether he supports the plan. Childers launched an attack ad anyway, because Nunnelee is one of more than 66,000 people who “like” the Fairtax.org Facebook group.

Harold Johnson, a Republican running against Rep. Larry Kissell, D-N.C., has said he supports any improvement to the current system, including the Fair Tax. “If it comes to a floor for a vote, I would be there,” he told the Charlotte Observer.

The ads are misleading, because they state that the candidate supports the national sales tax without pointing out that the individual income tax and other taxes would be repealed. FactCheck.org has confirmed as much to The Hill:

“Democrats are accusing Republicans of supporting a 23 percent sales tax on everything, which would be on top of all existing taxes… it’s misrepresenting by omission of the FairTax idea,” FactCheck.org director Brooks Jackson told The Hill.

“When people try to sell it on false evidence we step in,” he added.

The DCCC won’t give up on the misleading line, however:

“What Republican candidates don’t want you to know is that if they had their way, they’d slap middle-class families with a 23 percent national sales tax-hike on almost everything you buy – cars, clothes, groceries, even medicine,” DCCC spokesman Ryan Rudominer said, adding the tax is “simply wrong for middle-class families, and Republicans shouldn’t be surprised when it’s rejected in November.”

I’ll keep that in mind when the VAT comes up.

There are legitimate debates one can have about the FairTax and other tax reform proposals. But these ads don’t advance a truthful argument.


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