Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Irony of Neal Boortz and Allen Buckley

Yesterday I reported that talk show host Neal Boortz had theatrically threatened Georgia's GOP Senator with voting for Libertarian Allen Buckley instead, and I admitted that

I know that it was primarily a stunt to get Saxby Chambliss on the air, but this mention of Georgia Libertarian Senate candidate Allen Buckley can't hurt.

What I didn't know then--and which makes Boortz's gesture all the more interesting--is that three years ago Allen Buckley essentially fed Boortz his lunch in discrediting his arguments in favor of the so-called Fair Tax.

From Creative Loafing Atlanta (2005):

THE FAIR TAX sounds like a dream come true: a simple formula for abolishing the Internal Revenue Service and replacing our hopelessly complicated tax system with a national sales tax on virtually all goods and services.

It goes without saying that, with Boortz involved, the fair tax will make the rich richer. But what about the rest of the plan? When something sounds too good to be true, especially coming from an "entertainer" like Boortz, I look to an expert for an explanation. So, I talked with a local attorney who specializes in employee benefits, taxation and corporate law, and who has done considerable research into the issue.

His name is Allen Buckley. Like Boortz, Buckley's a Libertarian. In fact, he was the Georgia Libertarian Party's nominee for U.S. Senate last year.

Buckley says the fair tax is a sham. Last week, he called Boortz to discuss the fair tax on the air.

Boortz hung up on him.

To give you some idea of just how dishonest Boortz and Linder are, let me turn first to a basic part of the pitch they make for the fair tax. They write that "consumers will pay an embedded personal consumption tax in the amount of 23 percent on all goods and services sold at the retail level."

This is sleight of hand. And it should tell you, up front, that you are being gulled by the authors.

The tax is not 23 percent, Buckley explains. It's 30 percent.

Let's say I buy a $1 sombrero at Junkman's Daughter. With the fair tax, it would cost me $1.30 with tax, rounded off. In anybody's book, that's a 30 percent tax.

Not in the Boortz/Linder book.

Buckley notes that the authors turn 30 percent into 23 percent by using a figure that is "gross of the tax" -- in other words, once added to the $1 purchase price, the 30 cents then represents only 23 percent of the $1.30 total.

Every time I've ever computed a sales tax, I've added the tax to the purchase price. Boortz's math belongs in Alice in Wonderland, not The Fair Tax Book.

Boortz and Linder have protected themselves in the book by saying, "What's at stake here is the mathematical equivalent of a game of semantics."

Yes, that's true. Boortz and Linder are playing a game of semantics. That's entertainment!

And deception. Other parts of the book simply rely on bad faith and bad math. The authors claim that the fair tax would raise as much money as the current tax system.

No, it won't, Buckley says.

Not at 30 percent. In an essay on the fair tax posted on my colleague John Sugg's blog, Buckley notes that the former head of Congress' Joint Committee on Taxation has said the rate under the fair tax would need to be 59.5 percent for the first five years and then 57 percent after tax revenues to be "revenue neutral" to 1999 revenue.

Boortz and linder go on to argue that the fair tax would solve such problems as tax evasion.

Wrong again, says Buckley, who quotes the same congressional committee as suggesting that tax evasion soars when sales tax rates exceed 10 percent.

Tax evasion under the fair tax could get so bad that a black market would develop. People would cut deals under the table inside the country , or buy things from outside the country and smuggle them in.

Let's say you added 30 percent or 57 percent to the price of a prescription drug like Viagra. Will the old man who needs the drug go to CVS and cough up the full taxed price or, if he's as frugal and dishonest as he is horny, will he find a way to get it from Canada?

But gosh, that suggests people might be dishonest under the fair tax! Who's going to criticize them? Boortz?

What does he care? He's an "entertainer." And Americans love to be entertained. They don't pay a bit of attention to a serious guy like Buckley, an earnest, well-educated and thoughtful man who has tried to get involved in public service. But he's not in the entertainment business. He writes long and well-documented arguments, not bumper-sticker quips like Boortz does. Buckley doesn't communicate in the snappy way Americans communicate today.

He's a well-meaning guy crying in the wilderness. He wants to debate Boortz, who has now become the nation's most popular expert on tax policy. Buckley even had the guts to call Boortz's show, which is like climbing into the ring with a professional wrestler.

And Boortz hung up on him, the way he would brush off a flea that was bothering dear little Coco at home in the Buckhead condo, where Mrs. Boortz balances the checkbook because Boortz can't do it himself.

If I have one criticism regarding Allen Buckley's campaign style, it would be along the lines of the last, back-handed compliment about him being a serious guy who writes thoroughly detailed policy statements and doesn't speak in sound-bites. Buckley tends to answer all questions seriously, whether they merit it or not.

What I'd really love to see from the Buckley campaign is a new press release that's entitled:

Don't worry, Neal! When you call me to apologize, I won't hang up.


Anonymous said...

Boortz is an entertaining wind bag who proclaims to be a libertarian, but is right wing unless it will imprve his ratings.

Anonymous said...

Buckley's apparently not a very good mathematician.

While it is true that 30% of $1 is 30 cents... that's not an inclusive tax. If that were the case, you would be taxed right now on your take home pay, not your gross pay. So what's the actual tax formula?

30% of $1.30 is 39 cents.

23% of $1.30 is 30 cents.

Huh, that's weird... Sounds like Boortz said 23%.

Dan Walker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dan Walker said...

Ive followed the Fairtax nonsense for 13 years. And one thing is clear -- Boortz and every other Fairtax leader knows it's total nonsense.

Oh it sounds great -- unless you get into the math.

This 23 vs 30 % issue is like asking if your magic pony is going to poop gold or silver.

Their "plan" is to not just tax people -- their math falls laughably short if they just tax consumer spending.

So they tried to hide the fact that they tax government spending. That's right -- the GOVERNMENT has to pay this tax, and they count that as INCOME, not as an expense, and not as a "wash".

Read the Fairtax Book, for example, page 148 "The federal government ITSELF will become a MAJOR taxpayer."

Also read the Fairtax Answer Book - -pages 138-142. Every city, every state, every county, every police department - EVERY GOVERNMENT ENTITY -- will have to pay the federal government this massive tax.

That insanity is how their math "adds up".

Its preposterous, and they know it. That is why they have never -- and will never -- allow a hearing under oath.

Fairtax has NO research backing it up. None. Read their "research," it's like reading a lunatic tell you about his magic pony. Each "research" paper by Fairtax STARTS with the assumption it will work great, then tells you all the bounty and wealth that will spring from it.

For example they never explain what a 30% sales tax would do to new home sales, or new car sales. Not a word. Just a 30% sales tax would impact new car sales dramatically. But Fairtax would have to be even higher than that.

Nor do they do any research in how the poor will pay massive taxes on their rent. Yes - rent is taxed. So is cancer surgery -- no exceptions. The parents of a child with leukemia would have to pay (remember, NO exceptions) 100,000 just in TAXES, since leukemia can cost 400,000 to deal with.

There is a "prebate" of about 200 a month, that they claim will make sure no one is taxed on "the necessities of life". Nonsense, that 200 prebate does not raise a dime, even if you have cancer.

The only real research done for Fairtax, was done at the request of President Bush, who apparently kept hearing the accolades from those fooled by this farce.

The study was done by Joint Committee on Taxation -- and is available online. It says, basically, that just to replace the income tax, and leave all other federal taxes, it would take a 35% sales tax.

To replace FICA, corporate, and other fed taxes, it would take up to 60% sales tax.

At 60% sales tax -- all hell would break lose - massive tax avoidance would occur. consumer based economy.

Fairtax knows ALL this. They know their own plan is preposterous. They know their math is BS, and they are NOT trying to pass it. They would poo their pants if it ever even had a hearing under oath.

Fairtax is interesting because they have NO intention of passing it. They have EVERY intention of keeping it out of hearings, keeping real questions away, and pretending they have some magic pony that ships gold.

Seeker said...

Whoever thinks Fairtax is goofy because of the 23-30% thing is an idiot.

A complete idiot.

Fairtax is a goofy fraud becasue the tax rate would be 89%, not 23 or 30.

23% of what -- that's right, you clowns don't even ask 23% of what.

30% or 23% of WHAT?

When you figure out what the Fairtax tax base is, let me know.

Untill you can can answer 23%(or30) of what, you don't know ship from shiola. said...

Thanks for the article, very helpful information.