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.