Flat Tax for DC??

I can just see the smile on Tom’s face as he reads this, both the flax tax angle and the taxation without representation angle, and I know he’s gonna be commenting. So with a wiry smile I note that the New York Sun reports:

Senator Brownback, a Republican of Kansas, is looking to introduce legislation that would make Washington a “laboratory” for testing a flat tax’s merits, and will hold hearings early next year to explore the issue.”

I’m excited about it,” Mr. Brownback told The New York Sun in a phone interview earlier this week. Mr. Brownback said that making D.C. a test case would, with limited potential for negative impact, provide valuable data about the effects of a flat tax that would prove helpful in determining whether it should be applied nationwide

Here we go again, some crazy-ass Congressman is thinking DC is his personal sandbox. If he wants to mess with the tax structure, I say go with no Federal taxes. Not only would that be right – no taxation without representation – it would spur growth, investment, and a massive influx of Republicans like nuttin else would.

8 Comments so far

  1. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on December 2nd, 2005 @ 1:37 pm

    Actually, for once, I disagree. Taxation shouldn’t be done “laboratory-style” like this. You really want to know how this would work, you get the return for everyone in a medium sized state, and you recalculate what they’d owe based upon their returns and income.

    But, if this happens, I won’t pout for a couple reasons:

    1) the phrase tax-burden goes away. On both sides of the aisle.
    2) Once and for all we get an answer as to whether or not it’ll work in practice.
    3) Perhaps it could fix the city’s dwindling woes without having to enact the stupid commuter tax.


  2. Don (unregistered) on December 2nd, 2005 @ 2:02 pm

    Running those numbers on existing returns only tells you what each person would pay under the new system and if you have a shortfall or surplus. It doesn’t tell you how that impacts each person’s spending, how many people would be encouraged to move to that location because of the new scheme, what businesses would find it attractive… There’s a lot of ‘experimentation’ to be done there that you can’t find out from just an OMB analysis.

    That said, the “with limited potential for negative impact” amounts up to “they can’t vote my crazy ass out of office if it screws up” and is completely offensive. Pick 68 square miles of land in your own state and jerk around with that if you’re so interested. I’m sure you can get 98 other of your breatheren to sign on for it (minus immediate Presidential aspirants) it’s not their constituants they’d be screwing.


  3. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on December 2nd, 2005 @ 2:23 pm

    While the psychology part is certainly true, knowing whether or not you’d have a deficit or a surplus is exactly what we need to know to begin with. If deficit, well, it’s program that will not be revenue neutral, and thus, unlikely to pass :D


  4. wayan (unregistered) on December 2nd, 2005 @ 2:38 pm

    Deficits or surpluses would occur in the next fiscal year – not past ones. The psychology of folks would change the instant the law was passed, even before it took effect.

    Flat tax would have housing prices shift, companies move, people, move, and all in different ways, requiring much modeling and invalidating the majority of past performance rating. Granted, checking against last year’s rates would give a general idea, but not much to make a decision on – that’s future modeling.

    Past or future, if it passed, I bet a mortgage payment that your love shack in the burbs would drop in price as people moved into DC. Flat taxes are known for their regressive nature – taxing less as incomes rise – so the six-figure+ elites would be shifting from Burke to Brightwood.

    I can see it now – McMansions popping up at the old McMillan Water Treatment field, each “guaranteed larger than the White House!”


  5. Heather (unregistered) on December 2nd, 2005 @ 2:46 pm

    Forget doing this as some sort of “test”…let’s just do it and make it permanent! For once DC could lead the country in something other than crime rates!


  6. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on December 2nd, 2005 @ 4:34 pm

    Wayan, if you look at the aggregate numbers for the year, you’ll know quickly if you’re going to be net positive or net negative…


  7. steve-o (unregistered) on December 3rd, 2005 @ 1:07 am

    what a f***ing idiot. what next? Brownback for Mayor! (this change in position comes only from Mayor McCheese’s latest distancing of himself from a commitment to reducing the number of hamburglaries this year in the District)


  8. TOM MILLS (unregistered) on December 3rd, 2005 @ 8:31 am

    Wayan, I agree with your assessment – the effect will probably be instantaneous, regardless of aggregate numbers being a net positive or negative. It’s that whole “irrational exuberance” thing all over again.

    Consider that in our area, during the height of the housing boom (Post reported a net drop in sales, albeit not price), people waited in lines outside a developer’s model home or trailer for 3 days to get contracts – you’ll probably see a net influx of six-figure+ elites abandoning the previously “highly desired” bubrs into DC right away.

    I also think that it will be very difficult to assess the aggregate numbers, since the District is so well known to run out of money and then have the subcommittee on the District of Columbia (surprise, surprise, who chairs this committee??) fund the mandate just to prove it wasn’t a failure.

    I also think that the phrase “tax burden” will go away initially, but then the argument will be made that “a flat percentage of a big number is a big number and that’s just unfair”… let’s see, if we just code in some provisions to help shield “income”, that will be much fairer…. There will also be much debate as to what comprises “income”. Many argue that even a flat tax isn’t the fairest, because of that “income” provision and that a national VAT, or consumption based tax is the only “fair” tax….



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