In an interview with MarketWatch, former Massachusetts Governor and current Libertarian vice presidential nominee William Weld discussed the economy. One particularly interesting portion was when Weld discussed taxes:
MarketWatch: On the tax side, the platform calls for repealing the income tax and abolishing the IRS. So tell us how do you make up the revenue, and how can you possibly expect Congress and K Street to go along with that idea?
Weld: That proposal, as I understand it — the consumption tax — is called the fair tax. It has a “prebate” designed to make it easier for people at the lower income levels to live with it. Because it is on its face quite regressive, compared to the progressive income tax. It’s been filed the last 10 years and my understanding is it’s got the support of about 80 members of Congress. So it’s not just an idea that somebody in a Libertarian think tank dreamed up.
I myself have said that I might be inclined to take a good look at the Steve Forbes flat tax, from his 1996 campaign. I got fairly deeply into that. I think that actually works. You could run the government as presently constituted, at a level of 19% and if you wanted to do some real belt-tightening, you could go down as low as 17%. Of course for that, you would still need the IRS. But it would involve a lot of simplification of the tax code, which is one of its main purposes.
I think it’s worth a real close look, the flat-tax approach. The fat lady hasn’t sung yet in terms of what the end game would be here. And I take your point that Congress may have its own ideas. On the other hand, as an administration, we’re entitled and expected to advance our own platform, and the consumption-based tax, it takes some getting used to. But it would result in less tax revenue getting collected. I think that’s a good thing. There was a French anarchist called Proudhon, who said “property is theft.” He’s an anarchist. I sometimes say taxation is theft, because it is coercive. It’s theft by the government from the people, as far as it goes. Obviously you need some level of taxation, but I think anything that brings the level of taxation down is a good thing.
We agree with Thomas Jefferson that that government is best which governs least. It doesn’t mean you don’t have a safety net. It doesn’t mean you don’t have splendid programs, but the presumption is that the dollar belongs to the taxpayer who earned it.
Not only does Weld perfectly nail the libertarian refrain of “taxation is theft,” he also notes his only tepid support for the FairTax, a sentiment shared by many libertarians. Though his libertarian bona fides may often be questioned in other areas, on taxes and spending, Weld is about as good as it gets.
Listen to Weld discuss why “taxation is theft” in May: