The purpose of a campaign is to send an intelligent and informed voter to the ballot box. – Calvin Coolidge.
This is our goal is it not? We FairTax advocates strive to inform every American that we can and we have goals that we intend to reach and seek the best way to do so. Some are working on playing defense, others are attempting to raise funds, many speak to their Congressional leaders trying to convince them to cosponsor, and a few even run for office in a “Ghandian” effort to “be the change they wish to see”. But for most the ultimate goal is the passage of the FairTax in Congress. Our strides include an increased number of congressional cosponsors, an increased awareness in political leaders, and even a full hearing in front of the Ways and Means Committee. These are positive signs and when our bill does come up for a vote many will cheer the success, and success it will be. Make no mistake, a vote and debate on the floor of the House will be a tremendous milestone but will also mark the most dangerous time for our cause. The moment we hand off H.R. 25 to politicians is nowhere near the end of our duties as advocates. In a sense our job will have just begun. One of the main reasons we endeavor to educate as many Americans as we can is a direct response to that particular leg of the race. You see, no idea is as ever in danger of extinction than when it is debated before Congress. Because the FairTax is written as is to succeed. As it is not a very long bill any change, made in Committee or through an amendment, could substantially alter what we are fighting for.
It is true what Thomas Paine wrote, “Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.” We have heard that eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. There is no greater need for vigilance than behind the committee-room door. If we are to see our ultimate goal come to fruition then we must keep an ear steadfastly affixed to the ground. If we are to see the FairTax passed unscathed it will require constant input from volunteers and advocates from across the political spectrum and the map. In fact some of our volunteers that have had occasion to speak to their representative report that they are actually in favor of the idea or the bill itself, it is the process that scares them. While it is important for us to find support on the Ways and Means Committee it is also critical to cultivate relationships with the leadership of both parties. Lyman Beecher, a minister of the Second Great Awakening, said this of political movements, “No great advance has ever been made in science, politics, or religion, without controversy.” He is absolutely right. Which necessitates the input of the people because many politicians have an allergy based aversion to controversy. If left to their own devices it is likely that the slow encroachment of government would continue unimpeded. For example, after the recent Supreme Court ruling it is understood that the Republican Party seeks the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. The party’s presumptive nominee stated as much the day of the ruling. Many political prognosticators predicted that the ruling would even turn out more Republican voters on Election Day because the issue had the ability to create such interest. All of that being said look at their leader in the Senate this past week. He believes that the odds are against repeal and that it is likely to remain. He also suggested that the states should handle much of the fallout. A political leader will always make decisions that will retain their seat of power. That means not rocking the boat or taking decisive action. Many times this impotence will be justified with a promise to make things better down the line. How many times have we heard logic similar to this? “I cannot help with that particular problem if I am no longer chairman” or “This leadership position offers the chance to better represent my community”. Of course, those excuses are always accompanied by the word “no”.
This only underscores the rising problem of our tax code. While the voice of the citizen is drowned in the handwringing of political scale measuring, the whims of special interest groups always find their way into codified law. Take the example of the roll-your-own cigarette industry. The following is a synopsis of the article linked. This industry was snuffed out due to a small amendment in a recently passed transportation bill. This case is a perfect example of the weaponized tax code and its devastating effect on commerce, business, jobs and the economy. The roll your own cigarettes were cheaper than those that could be bought in packs, since I am not a smoker I cannot speak to the quality difference if there was one, but the cost differential was substantial. Part of the reason was because the tobacco used in these cigarettes was not taxed the same. It also lacked many of the chemicals in the tobacco and paper that make smoking such a dangerous habit. A few paragraphs were added to the transportation bill changed the definition of what a cigarette manufacturer actually is and added regulations and higher taxes to thousands of roll your own cigarette operations nationwide. The move was, of course, backed by large tobacco companies and the amendment was made by Sen. Max Baucus of Montana. Montana did not have any of the offending roll you own locations. Max Baucus had no legitimate complaint coming from his constituents about business that did not exist in his state. He did however receive donations from Altria, a parent company of Philip Morris. This is one example of how our tax code is no longer serving its intended purpose. The argument in passing the amendment was to increase tax revenues. The end result was lost jobs, stifled entrepreneurship, a loss in revenues, and a larger tax code.
The tax code shows no sign of slowing its own growth. There is too much money for politicians in its complexity and scope. The IRS itself is growing exceedingly fast to prepare for the additional complexities that are the new healthcare taxes. Some political leaders are right to be fearful of the process of passing legislation, it is difficult to defend from a litany of amendments and challenges when you are on your own. Let us reassure them that they are anything but alone. The problem with pushing a bill like the FairTax is that it has to come from the ground up. As seen there is too much monetary resistance for this idea to come from Washington D.C. but we are on the right track. We have to gain cosponsors, win friends in leadership, work across the aisle, inform American citizens to turn them into voters, raise money, discuss the plan in the public eye, and keep our successes with regular follow-ups and maintain an informed view on political machinations. The problem is that an organization cannot do this. No organization could juggle that many issues and responsibilities. A movement can. The difference is that an organization can be led by an individual; a movement is the sweeping passions of a multitude causing action toward a specific goal. A movement has leaders but is comprised only of actors. Those that are interested in goals and more importantly an ideal. The beauty of such a system is that its destiny can only be determined by you. Your effort is not merely suggested but is necessary. From now until the signing ceremony we need you to keep the FairTax bill in its current form through the political wrangling process that turns a bill into a law. We see the fight to the end or it would be better not to fight at all. There is no secret that our current system is broken beyond repair, no amount of tinkering will mend the damage done already. People are tired of leaders that do not lead and calls that go unanswered. It is time to make our move but we cannot do so successfully without you. We cannot be in the debate if we are planted on the sidelines. So get in the game.