by David Safier
Among the many things I like about Sen. Paula Aboud's push to expose the flat tax is, she's getting ahead of the issue. Too often, we let the other side define the issue and set the vocabulary, then we end up back on our heels, trying to fight off their arguments, often using their terminology.
Not this time. The legislature isn't in session. The conservatives aren't hammering the flat tax issue. So we have a chance to frame the issue: The flat tax will mean higher taxes for people making less than $100,000. You've got to be rich to see a tax break. It's not only a good way to combat next year's legislative push. It's a great 2012 campaign issue: Republicans want to raise your taxes so they can cut taxes on the rich.
Aboud had an op ed in the Star Saturday with exactly the right headline: Beware the flat-tax scheme, which rewards the rich and punishes the middle class. Here's the third sentence:
Supporters wanted to pass a flat income tax bill for Arizona - a bill that would raise taxes on 88 percent of middle-class families.
Simple, direct, to the point.
Today, Bodfield has an article on the flat tax as well, featuring Aboud and her upcoming forums (Monday, 6:30pm in Tucson). Here's the opening, setting up McCain in the first sentence, then letting Aboud knock him down in the second.
When U.S. Sen. John McCain came to Tucson recently for a few town halls, the Republican made the pitch for flattening the tax code, saying no one understands the darn thing.
But ask Democratic state Sen. Paula Aboud and she contends a wholesale flattening isn't the answer - unless folks are all excited about shifting taxes from the wealthy to the middle class.
The article has one of the most apologetic statements from the Goldwater Institute I remember hearing.
Steve Slivinski, a senior economist at the Goldwater Institute who supports flattening the tax, said cost shifts from the wealthy to the less wealthy are inevitable in any move away from the progressive tax structure we have now, where the wealthy pay a higher percent.
Slivinski said the question is whether those on the upper end will invest those freed-up revenues to generate more economic growth and hire more workers.
Observe! The Goldwater Institute is back on its heels this time, having to admit they support a tax shift from the rich to the middle class, then asserting weakly, maybe the rich will use the extra cash to create new jobs.
The forum Monday should be good, with experts discussing the issue. I plan to be there and post about it. Time: 6:30pm, Monday, 9/12. Place: Temple Emanu-El, 225 N. Country Club Road.