In one of my Joe the Plumber posts yesterday, I included an observation from Citizens for Tax Justice that John McCain might be edging toward support of a flat tax.
The nonprofit public interest group cited McCain's comment during his final debate with Barack Obama about the Democrat's use of the phrase "spread the wealth."
Spreading the wealth, says CJT, is the purpose of a progressive income tax with graduated rates. So by denouncing that concept, asks the group, is McCain indicating his support for a flat income tax or a national sales tax instead?
That move might be on the approaching election horizon, says Huffington Post blogger Chris Kelly.
Running behind in most polls and with time running out, Kelly writes:
I think John McCain has one more trick up his sleeve. (One last hand from the grave? Some metaphor about shock and clutching.) I think John McCain is planning our terror. I think John McCain is going to pitch the Flat Tax.
Fair to whom? The flat tax has been the holy grail of anti-tax groups for ages. Wouldn't the world be wonderful if we just got rid of all these convoluted loopholes that only rich folks with smart tax advisers can use and we all just paid the same rate?
Yeah, for the rich people.
They're much more equipped to deal with any percentage that might be set for a flat tax.
If it takes 80 percent of your income to cover your living expenses, then lopping another 15 percent off that for taxes is going to push you to the literal subsistence edge.
If, however, you're well enough off to only need 5 percent or so of your income to live comfortably, then that 15 percent tax rate is negligible.
But I fear that Kelly could be correct in predicting that McCain might well become the flat tax's biggest fan in the next couple of weeks.
Even if there's no realistic chance it would be enacted, it would be, writes Kelly, "a great election promise, though, don't you think? A game changer? Really shake things up? Wouldn't it be a maverick thing to do?"