Hmm. Roughly eighty days to the election. Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton have submitted their tax plans and some generalities about economic policy. In a word, Mr. Trump advocates lower taxes for the rich and a drastic cut in the corporate income tax. Mrs. Clinton advocates a surcharge for the very highly paid — $5 million and up — and hikes in the estate tax — or as we Republicans call it, the “death tax.”
All well and good, and bravo for both candidates. But I have a much more radical and satisfactory tax plan. I call it the Stein Plan and it’s really simple:
Read my lips: “NO TAXES AT ALL.”
No, not “no new taxes,” as Mr. Bush 41 famously said. No, what I said is far simpler: No freaking taxes at all.
Here’s why it just might work. At this point, the federal government is running a budget deficit of about $500 billion per year. That’s out of a total budget of about $4 trillion. The deficit is financed mostly not by those frugal Chinese at this point. It’s financed by the Federal Reserve, our central bank, printing money. It’s just printing press money, with nothing behind it at all. The Fed just writes a check on its imaginary bank account and boom, it’s all taken care of.
Check it out: Since Mr. Obama took office we have run cumulative deficits of close to $10 trillion, or roughly half of the total national debt for a country that’s 240 years old — all totted up in less than eight years.
Now, here comes the beautiful part: a very large part of selling that debt just comes from the Fed printing money. By all economic history and theory, that is supposed to lead to immense inflation. Think of newsreels of Weimar Germany and Germans having to bring in a wheelbarrow of marks to buy a loaf of bread. So, we should have immense inflation. But we don’t have ANY to speak of. Not much at all.
So, paying for the government just by printing money can work without generating punishing inflation — at least for a while. If that’s true, and it is, at least for here and now, why bother having any taxes at all? Why not just abolish all taxes, at least all federal taxes, and just print the money? It shouldn’t work, but hummingbirds are not supposed to be able to fly. So, why not give it a try? Taxes are an immense pain in the neck to prepare and an even bigger pain to pay. So… recent history tells us we can just kiss Form 1040 good-bye.
I would say, “Let’s try it.” But we’ve already tried it and it works. Of course it might stop working and we might get wild inflation, and then again, maybe we won’t. It’s a new world out there — full employment, no inflation, big deficits, no inflation, zero interest rates, no inflation.
It’s just one small step to the Brave New World: no taxes at all. Glory be. It’s all here inside the gates of Eden.
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