Carson Clueless About Tax Policy Too

Ben Carson seems to be as clueless about tax policy as he is about virtually every other political issue. He says he’s in favor of a flat tax, but on Fox News Sunday he said he wants a “proportional tax” where “you pay according to your ability.” That’s the opposite of a flat tax. But he still thinks we should have a flat tax:

But on Sunday, host Chris Wallace confronted Carson with tax experts, who found that to raise the same amount of revenue the federal government currently takes in, the government would have to impose a 20 percent tax across the board. (The Tax Policy Center argues it would have to be at least 25 percent.) “Middle incomes would get a tax hike and wealthy families would get a tax cut,” Wallace explained. Carson countered that he simply didn’t “agree with that assessment.” He then admitted that according to the economists he’s consulted, if loopholes and deductions are eliminated, it would still have to be between 10 and 15 percent — but it wouldn’t be 20 percent.

Wallace followed up by asking about low-income families, who not only don’t pay taxes, but usually receive an earned income tax credit instead. “Now you’ll have them pay 10 to 15 percent of income they have — or 20 percent if my experts are right. A lot of independent studies say the people that make like bandits in this are the wealthy.”

So what to do when faced with actual, ya know, facts? You start tossing a word salad of conservative cliches that make no sense together:

Carson could only then offer a vague explanation about how his tax plan is part of “an overall complex program” that involves “reorienting the way we do things in government.” The candidate said he wants to run the government “more like a business” instead of “this great inefficient behemoth we have right now,” including generating revenue by “utilizing our energy resources.” Part of his plan also includes “revamping corporate taxes and bringing in money that’s overseas by giving a tax holiday,” claiming that would bring in “$2 trillion right there.”

The more I listen to Ben Carson, the more obvious it is that he’s simply got nothing. Not a single original or interesting idea on public policy in any context at all. He’s just memorized a bunch of platitudes. And what he thinks he knows is almost invariably wrong.

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  • John Pieret

    he’s simply got nothing. Not a single original or interesting idea on public policy in any context at all. He’s just memorized a bunch of platitudes. And what he thinks he knows is almost invariably wrong.

    Another Dubya, in other words.

  • eric

    That’s the opposite of a flat tax. But he still thinks we should have a flat tax:

    Well, labels are squishy but its certainly possible to come up with a flatter tax scheme. For example, 25% on all income above $100k, 0% on income $0-100k. However Carson is not talking about anything like that: he is, as you say, just mouthing platitudes. Not even a platitude du jour – he seems happy to change his minute by minute.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/TabbyLavalamp Tabby Lavalamp

    Can conservatives PLEASE shut the hell up about “running government like a business”? The government is NOT a business! They are two completely different things with completely different goals!

  • dingojack

    Maybe Carson meant a flat tax rate. That is, for example, everyone tithes, I mean, pays a tax of 10% on their income…

    @@ Dingo

    —————-

    PS: How’d that whole I’ve got a brilliant new tax plan thingy work out of Herman Cain, Ben?

  • scienceavenger

    The retort to any talk of a flat tax is:

    “So, you want to revoke the mortgage interest deduction?”

    End of conversation.

  • daved

    When they say “run government like a business”, they’re usually appealing to some mythical idea that businesses are run very efficiently — so efficiently that, once the change is complete, we probably won’t even need to have taxes any more.

    Well, I’ve been working in the private sector my whole adult life, and I can say with some assurance that business isn’t usually all that efficient — and the bigger it gets, the less efficient it gets.

  • Chiroptera

    Tabby Lavalamp, #3: They are two completely different things with completely different goals!

    To assist rich people get even richer? Sounds like the same goals to me.

    (I joke. I agree with your point and have made it myself.)

    daved, #6: Well, I’ve been working in the private sector my whole adult life, and I can say with some assurance that business isn’t usually all that efficient — and the bigger it gets, the less efficient it gets.

    I truly enjoy the screaming that starts when I point out that one of the most efficiently run large organizations is the US Postal Service.

  • caseloweraz

    Ben Carson seems to be as clueless about tax policy as he is about virtually every other political issue. He says he’s in favor of a flat tax…

    And how well that worked for Steve Forbes.

  • busterggi

    Carson doesn’t need to know anything, Jesus will give him all the right answers in his sleep.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    The more I listen to {Republican}, the more obvious it is that he’s simply got nothing. Not a single original or interesting idea on public policy in any context at all. He’s just memorized a bunch of platitudes. And what he thinks he knows is almost invariably wrong.

    There. I just saved you a bunch of time.

  • jaybee

    Not only is the Government not like a business, the federal budget is not like the family budget (another common false analogy).

    Many who espouse a flat tax claim that the tax code will be reduced to just a handful of sentences. Even if such a simple flat tax formulation was accepted, there would still be thousands of pages of regulations describing what items get to be deducted in order to get that income which is to be taxed.

  • moarscienceplz

    Dang! Modus beat me to it!

  • wpjoe

    Is he a Marxist? “…he said he wants a “proportional tax” where “you pay according to your ability.” That sounds a lot like “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need”.

    Also, “…he wants to run the government “more like a business … including generating revenue by “utilizing our energy resources.” That sounds like he is ready to nationalize the oil and gas industries. I think we have a true communist here.

  • grumpyoldfart

    he’s simply got nothing.

    He’s got a handle on his audience.

  • D. C. Sessions

    Hmmm. With a government budget of about $3.5 trillion and 320 million people with a per-capita personal income of about $43K, you have a per-capita tax rate (for a balanced budget) of a bit less than $11,000 per, or 25%. Of course, that doesn’t count the States.

    Total spending (Federal+State+local-transfers) in 2014 was $6.0e12, or almost twice the Federal amount. Net taxation on a flat-tax scheme would be a hair under $18750 per capita, or 43.6%

    So your median American family with an income of about $50K would be paying $22K per year in taxes. Someone on minimum wage would have an after-tax income of $4.22 Perhaps with that kind of skin in the game, those burger flippers would get realize how much the Job Creators have been abused all these years.

  • eric

    @11:

    there would still be thousands of pages of regulations describing what items get to be deducted in order to get that income which is to be taxed

    I think @5 hit the nail on the head here about deductions: they talk in general as if they are going to eliminate them across the board and implement a truly flat tax rate, even if they would never actually do so and never actually defend that position if they were asked about specific deductions.

    Its a very fragile bubble, popped easily by any moderately deep question. Fortunately (for them) or unfortunately (for us), the press panders to them to such an extent that even a minimalist question like what ScienceAvenger suggests never gets asked of them.

  • colnago80

    Re eric @ #16

    The original Steve Forbes Plan, as I understand it had no deductions period. It did have an exemption of $7000 for the tax payer and for each dependent. That system does have some progression built in. Considering the following:

    A taxpayer earning $30,000/year with 4 exemptions would be paying a 20% tax on $2000, or $400, a rate of 1.3%. A taxpayer earning $50,000 would be paying a 20% tax on $22,000 or $4400, a rate of 8.8%. A taxpayer earning $100,000 would be paying a tax on $72,000 or $14,400, a rate of 14.4%.

    I set up a simple Excel spread sheet from which one could run any number of scenarios with different flat tax rates, different exemptions, different incomes, etc . However, the only way this could work in practice, which would never happen, is no deductions for anybody for anything. This would certainly be a fairer system then a VAT which at least one commenter on this blog has called for.

  • Hoosier X

    Ben Carson sounds like Herman Cain without the charm.

  • carpenterman

    You know what the worst part is? This man is a brilliant neurosurgeon. Why would he give that up to do *this*?!

  • raven

    I assume with the Flat Tax that we will also tax…corporations. And downsize their exemptions, loopholes, and government subsidies?

    Which are huge. The way the tax system is now, most corporations don’t pay any taxes.

    I can’t decide whether the US will Flat Tax corporations before or after we tax the…churches. With the Flat Tax of course.

  • pixiedust

    Whenever a flat tax is brought up, a friend asks, “You mean on wealth? Say 1% of net worth every year?” And then the flat taxers try to explain why that Just wouldn’t be fair at all.

    The funny part is that she is Republican. She really hates the hypocrisy of so many in her party.

  • magistramarla

    carpenterman @19

    I’ve often thought the same thing. He could have had a nice retirement – perhaps pass on some of his expertise by instructing some young neurosurgeons, and would have still retained some respect from the general public.

    I’m sure that I would have just shaken my head if I heard that he was a Repub, thinking that making lots of money can cause people to think that way, but I still would have respected him as a great neurosurgeon.

    Now, he just seems to be a sad, idiotic man and what he is doing to himself has overshadowed his reputation as a great neurosurgeon. Sad, really, really sad.

  • Kermit Sansoo

    How do we know he’s a “brilliant” neurosurgeon?

    .

    In any event, that’s a different skill set than “understanding life, science, politics, people, or money”.

    .

    If I were going under the knife, and I heard that my surgeon was a Creationist, but a decent surgeon, I’d be OK with that. If he were my grandkids’ biology teacher, however, I would not be OK with that.