WSJ Reviews Forbes's 'Flat Tax Revolution'
The review begins:
The flat tax–the same tax rate for everyone, without all the deductions that now complicate the tax code–is an idea with a decades-long pedigree. Politically its high-water mark in the U.S. came in 1996, when Steve Forbes ran for the Republican presidential nomination against Bob Dole and a tired GOP establishment.
Mr. Forbes single-handedly thrust revolutionary ideas into the political headlights–ideas about health insurance and Social Security, for instance, but most famously about the tax code itself. The GOP establishment hated his message, but the conservative rank-and-file loved it. Mr. Forbes was suddenly the talk of the town. There he was, with his signature horn-rimmed glasses and geekish smile, plastered on the cover of Time magazine. And for a brief moment it appeared that he might even win the nomination and topple the Republican establishment.
But then various deep-pocketed interest groups stirred themselves into action. In January 1996, for instance, the housing industry spent millions of dollars on TV and print ads explaining to New Hampshire voters that Mr. Forbes’s flat tax, by eliminating the mortgage-interest tax deduction, would destroy the value of their homes and send their tax bills through the ceiling. Not a word of it was true, but truth is often a casualty in political polemics. Mr. Forbes fell like an oak.
Later in the review, Moore notes that Forbes should be more gracious in his characterizations of the FairTax:
The only low point in “Flat Tax Revolution” is a gratuitous attack on the idea of a national sales tax, the so-called Fair Tax. Mr. Forbes writes that, because the fair tax offers a universal rebate to all Americans, “poor taxpayers may resent that their well-off counterparts are getting the same amount they are.” But the flat tax also has a “universal rebate”: The first $40,000 of income for a family of four is not taxed.
The truth is that these two reform plans have a lot in common–low rates, uniformity, simplicity–and they both run circles around the current system, which is every bit as bad as Mr. Forbes says it is.
See the full review for additional information.