Chatted with Ken Hoagland, spokesman for Americans for Fair Taxation, this morning. The Fair Tax advocates have been doggedly following candidates and trying to get their "Fair Tax" pledge which envisions throwing out the entire IRS code and replacing it with a single rate sales tax. ABC news reports that when confronted with the group at the Houston rally Thompson replied ""yeah, absolutely" but his campaign now indicates he has not taken the pledge. Hoagland says that it was "just as you see on the tape" and that Thompson "was asked and answered" although he suggests that maybe Thompson was not answering "as a candidate" but merely as a taxpayer fed up with the IRS code. The Fair Tax website lists John McCain as a supporter and includes a clip of him answering a questioner at an Iowa event that "If it came to my desk, obviously, I would sign anything that would simplify our tax code." However, McCain in his speeches and economic proposals has never directly advocated dropping the tax code entirely. His campaign directed me to his July 23 Michigan speech where he stated: "We can have a single, fair and simpler system built on the a few tax rates for consumed income and straightforward credits for work, health, education, and those with a family. We can make our personal and business tax systems work cohesively so that we can shed our status as one of the least attractive tax jurisdictions on earth. Let nobody be fooled: if our largest, best companies are overtaxed and uncompetitive, it is the American worker who suffers." This seems to emphasize his goal to reform, not throw out, the income tax code. Rudy and Romney have been clear that they do not support the radical tax change advocated by Fair Tax supporters and, are committed at a minimum to keeping the Bush tax cuts in place. The Fair Tax folks are extremely well organized, plan to bird dog candidates throughout the campaign and will be holding a large rally in Ames before the straw poll. So candidates be warned: have your answer ready when they show up at your next event.
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