Huckabee Flip-Flops on Immigration

As Governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee was pretty good on immigrants' rights. Today, he released his proposed immigration plan, and it's an about-face.

His new immigration plan does not address education, health care or other services provided to illegal immigrants....In addition to building the fence and installing surveillance cameras along the border, and adding law enforcement agents, the plan would, among other things:
  • Punish employers who hire illegal immigrants, create a system to verify citizenship and stop the IRS and Social Security Administration from accepting fake Social Security numbers.
  • Pass a tax plan, called the FAIR tax, which would eliminate the IRS as well as income, corporate, payroll and other taxes in favor of a 23 percent sales tax. Huckabee said this would credit an economic disincentive for illegal immigration.
  • Eliminate the visa lottery system and admission preferences for brothers and sisters of citizens, increase visas for highly skilled and educated applicants and expedite processing for Armed Services members.
  • Force illegal immigrants to return to their home countries before they are allowed to apply to return to the U.S.

It also rejects the Mexican consular ID card.

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    "FAIR"? (none / 0) (#2)
    by Peter G on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 12:54:12 PM EST
    Is there any tax more regressive than a flat sales tax?  I'd like to see some numbers on how that would affect the real federal tax rates of different income groups, relative to the present (admittedly messed up) system.  And to call abolition of the progressive income tax an immigration policy proposal is just absurd.

    23% is steep....... (none / 0) (#3)
    by kdog on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 01:07:32 PM EST
    I know laser-guided missiles and cluster bombs ain't cheap....but 23%?  Damn Huck, I know you got cronies to take care of but thats a lil' nuts.

    I'd love nothing more to see the IRS and the income tax abolished, and am open to national sales tax ideas....but I would start at 10%.  If that doesn't cover govt. expenses, cut expenses, starting with the missiles, and scrapping the DEA.


    Wanna find out?? (4.00 / 0) (#25)
    by jimakaPPJ on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 08:15:33 PM EST
    Take a} what you paid in FIT last year and divide it by b) your reported income and you will have the percentage paid in federal income taxes.. since he claims to eliminate payroll taxes, add what you paid in FICA to the FIT paid and divide by the reported income..

    I doubt it will be too far off..


    now come on Jim, (none / 0) (#27)
    by Deconstructionist on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 08:15:05 AM EST
      YOU understand this. I know that because when we've had discussions about whether the bush tax cuts should be allowed to expire, you countered arguments that the lower incomes pay more than their share of taxes by pointing out--correctly-- that a family of four with an income of approximately $38,000 has a 0% effective federal income tax rate.

      FICA and Medicare withholding give that family of four an effective total federal tax burden of approximately (don't recall the exactnumber off the top of my head) 8%.

      That of course means this "FAIR" tax proposal which its own adcocates state would give the family an effective total effective federal tax rate of 15.5% would approximately DOUBLE the tax burden for them, while at the same time greatly reducing the effective tax rate on the income of the wealthy AND raising FAR less revenue.

      As I said, if people want to make arguments that it would be a good thing for lower middle class families to pay a lot more taxes and the wealthier to pay less that's fine. Explain why that would benefit the country and if you are persuasive enough people will support it.

      Just don't attempt to falsely clam this and similar proposals will not shift the burden to lower incomes because that is simply undeniable.


    Normally you are better than this... (none / 0) (#28)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 11:20:50 AM EST
    I made no comment regarding the right or wrong about this. I just pointed out how kdog can figure out his actual percentage paid in FIT and FICA on his total income.

    And, in fact, I can't remember making the argument you note in your first paragraph, although I may have been unclear at the time and/or suffering a "senior" moment. I do remember the discussion re the family of four and FIT. (Not FICA.)

    As for Social Security, I see it totally as a forced retirement/insurance program in which the return is not means tested, but based on payment into the system, although many argue re certain population groups living longer thus getting an unfair amount. Perhaps we need an official "death" time at which benefits cease.

    I am not, as you may have noticed, a fan of Huckabee, and find it difficult to understand how he can replace a 15% and 1.75% tax plus FIT with a 23% tax. Does not compute. But if he can do it he should be anointed, not merely elected. ;-)

    You may also be remembering that I want to pay for NHC via a national sales tax. In my comments re that you will find no argument for chunking FIT.
    In those proposal I also noted that essentials be not taxed and others "graded" in the interest of fairness.


    Fair enough (none / 0) (#29)
    by Deconstructionist on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 11:52:23 AM EST
      The idea of paying for health care through a federal sales tax is certainly worth bringing to the table.

      As long as we agree that is an entirely different idea than eliminating all existing federal taxes and replacing them with a sales tax to fund the entirety of the federal government-- including SS and medicare and medicaid--  is preposterous and that, as you acknowledge wile's numbers do not comme close to computing, we are in the realm of reasonable discussion not fantasy land.

      As for SS, it is not really insurance or a retirement investment or annuity program and never has been. It's a social welfare program which provides scheduled benefits and is funded through a fixed (below the ceiling)tax on income and payroll.

    If you want to argue for PROSPECTIVE means testing for benefits from a certain future date forward, I think that is something to be considered but I don't believe it is fair to eliminate anticipated benefits for anyone regardless of income who has been employed and paying contributions for more than a few years now (i.e. the very young who have many years to prepare).

      More importantly, I do not think eliminating or reducing benefits for the wealthy  should be conflated with allowing the wealthy to opt out of helping subsidize the funding of the program, an i personally think the wealtyh should be required to pay more by elimination of the income ceiling.


    Social security (none / 0) (#30)
    by Wile ECoyote on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 04:14:44 PM EST
    How is the Social Security system affected?

    Like all federal spending programs, Social Security operates exactly as it does today, except that its funds come from a broad, progressive sales tax, rather than a narrow, regressive payroll tax. Employers continue to report wages for each employee, though, to the Social Security Administration for the determination of benefits. The transition to a reformed Social Security system is eased while ensuring there is sufficient funding to continue promised benefits.

    Meanwhile, Social Security/Medicare funds are no longer triple-taxed as under the current system: 1) when payroll taxes are initially withheld; 2) when those withheld payroll taxes are counted as part of the taxable base for income tax purposes; and 3) when the promised benefits are finally received.


    You mossd no.4 (none / 0) (#31)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 10:41:32 PM EST
    Depending in income, benefits are taxed when paid.

    So they are, to a degree, means tested.


    23% is about what is paid now. (none / 0) (#4)
    by Wile ECoyote on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 01:09:13 PM EST
    If you take into account all federal tazes.  You should read up on it.

    Um (none / 0) (#5)
    by Wile ECoyote on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 01:21:15 PM EST
    Punish employers who hire illegal immigrants, create a system to verify citizenship and stop the IRS and Social Security Administration from accepting fake Social Security numbers.

    How is this bad?  

    most everything else as well. Although the article does say something about a wall on the US/Mex border which I think is unwise...

    For the sake of argument, (none / 0) (#6)
    by Deconstructionist on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 01:54:34 PM EST
     let's assume that's true, even though it's not:


    Gross income: $40K 23%= $9660 in federal taxes.
                  $ 400K= $96,600

    With 23% sales tax:

    Gross Income $40K -- spends 80% on non-exempt purchases; 23% of 32K= $7360 in federal taxes or 18.4% effective rate.

    Gross income $400K --spends 50% on non-exempt purchases; 23% of $200K= $46,000 or 11.5% effective rate.

      So not only do we  see a huge loss of revenue, we have a far more regressive tax structure.

    I see giving the government.... (none / 0) (#8)
    by kdog on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 02:14:45 PM EST
    less revenue to work with as a good thing, less trouble they can cause and dirty-dealing they can do.  It would have to be coupled with a limit on govt. borrowing of some kind though.

    And I'm having trouble coming up with moral qualms about taxing consumption instead of earnings.  I consider myself working/middle class, and live fairly humbly (by American standards, imo)...is it not fair for me to pay less taxes than someone earning the same but living high on the hog by running up debt?


    you probably do (none / 0) (#11)
    by Deconstructionist on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 02:49:04 PM EST
      pay less taxes if you include state and local taxes which include sales taxes on purchases and property taxes on the McMansions.

      Moreover, so long as the people ultimately pay their debts I don't it being more or less fair in that regard.

      I'm with you as far as lifestyle. I make a pretty good living but still live in the same house I bought the year I got out of school and both my vehicles are more than 5 years old.

      I pay a lot of federal  taxes and would pay MUCH less-- probably less than half --under these "fair" "flat" and sales tax proposals.

      Of course, if everyone was like you and me and less into material possessions the economy would suffer because less production would be needed. you can make the claim that a system which discouraged consumption because of taxes would thus encourage investment but you need to invest in the production of things people are buying to make money.


    Good point.... (none / 0) (#15)
    by kdog on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 03:27:50 PM EST
    about paying less state/local taxes...I was thinking only of federal.

    Discouraging consumption through taxation would hurt the economy, but would be great for the enviroment and conserve resources.  Might be worth the trade off.  Besides, the only thing we really produce for consumption anymore is food and weapons, almost all the rest is imported.  It would hurt the Far East and the domestic middle-men the most...again, maybe not the worst thing.  Could lead to an increase in the investment in medicine or alternative energy sources instead of video games and Tickle-Me Elmos.


    Well (none / 0) (#18)
    by Deconstructionist on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 03:51:34 PM EST
     a global recession is even worse than just a domestic one, isn't it?

     Also, if we didn't have a global recession as a result of the drop in domestic consumption then all the money retained by the rich here might well be invested oveseas to produce things to be sold overseas.

      We might also see more rich people jetting off even more frequently to places that don't have a 23% tax on goods and services to enjoy their fine  food, wine, lodging, golf and so forth.

      Also, the "Fair" tax people faile entirely to consider the loss in revenue from goods that are produced here but are sold overseas (we actually export quite a bit you know) since it says the sales tax is only on final sale for consumption and all business taxes have been eliminated all the export production will essentially be subsidized by our lower and middle class to make cheaper goods available overseas.

      All in all,it's such an incredibly foolish  idea that it has no chance even if we had a Republican President and a 90-10 Republican majority in both houses. There is a reason, why despite these silly things being talked about all the time they were not enacted when they had the chance.

      Of course, the sophisticated Republicans know the value of being able to "demagogue it up" is the reason for this stuff  not any sane appraisal l of tax policy.


    Thanks as always..... (none / 0) (#19)
    by kdog on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 03:56:23 PM EST
    for the food for thought.  

    I know you're too smart to want the job....but you should run for office man:)


    Oh yeah, with my sweet disposition (none / 0) (#21)
    by Deconstructionist on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 04:25:01 PM EST
     I'd make a great candidate. Nothing attracts votes like telling both sides why they're full of it.

    I'm not tempermentally suited for any position other than benevolent dictator. Tell you what, after you lead the revolution, look me up when it's time to start governing.


    Done.... (none / 0) (#22)
    by kdog on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 05:19:28 PM EST
    How does Secretary of Bullsh*t Eradication sound?

    I see reasons why this would never work...the government will or can not reduce spending enough to keep the tax at a reasonable level, critics say it has to be 30-35%.  The "prebate" thing in the FAIR proposal sounds kinda sketchy too...why tax essentials at all if you're giving out checks beforehand to cover it?

    I wonder though how much consumption would be reduced with the working stiff bring home his gross, and businesses having no taxes to cover, which should lower retail prices.  The materialism of our fellow Americans could surprise us.  What's left of American manufacturing could better compete internationally as well.  

    And a man can dream we'd buy less missiles and stop burning crops:)


    Um, (none / 0) (#23)
    by Wile ECoyote on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 08:06:40 PM EST
    You need to read more about it.  It is not 23% on top of what we are paying now.  

    Is the 23% FairTax revenue-neutral rate higher or lower when compared to income and Social Security taxes people pay today?

    Most people are paying that much or more today -- much of it is just hidden from view. The income tax bracket most people fall into is 15 percent, and all wage earners pay 7.65 percent in payroll taxes. That's 23 percent right there, without taking into account the 7.65 percent employer matching! On top of that, you have to add in the business taxes and associated compliance costs passed on to consumers in higher prices.

    Effective tax rates vs. stated tax rates
    Because the 23-percent FairTax rate of $0.23 on every dollar spent is not imposed on necessities, an individual spending $30,000 pays an effective tax rate of only 15.5 percent, not 23 percent. That same individual will pay 17.3 percent of his or her income to federal taxes under current law. See effective tax rates for a family of four at various spending levels in Figure 2.

    As far as the Al Gores and the evil republicans jetting off to save money:

    How does this affect U.S. competitiveness in foreign trade?

    Because the FairTax is automatically border adjustable, the 17 percent competitive advantage, on average, of foreign producers is eliminated, immediately boosting U.S. competitiveness overseas. American companies doing business internationally are able to sell their goods at lower prices but at similar margins, and this brings jobs to America.

    In addition, U.S. companies with investments or plants abroad bring home overseas profits without the penalty of paying income taxes, thus resulting in more U.S. capital investment.

    And at last, imports and domestic production are on a level playing field. Exported goods are not subject to the FairTax, since they are not consumed in the U.S.; but imported goods sold in the U.S. are subject to the FairTax because these products are consumed domestically.

    Hucklebee (none / 0) (#26)
    by jimakaPPJ on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 08:20:27 PM EST
    is talking Federal only. State and local taxes aren't involved.

    So (none / 0) (#9)
    by Wile ECoyote on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 02:16:04 PM EST
    your numbers are good?  If a person chooses to spend 80% on non-exempt items is worse than the gov't taking their money through threat of violence?  

    So not only do we  see a huge loss of revenue
     You have the choice to spend more to make up for that.  I bet you could even send the gov't more money if you wanted to.  

    It's not entirely or even primarily a choice (5.00 / 0) (#10)
    by Deconstructionist on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 02:36:10 PM EST
     the less money you make the greater proportion you must spend on food, clothing, transportation, and other necessities.

      Poor people can spend all of their income (and more) just to subsist. Middle-class people must spend the vast majority of their income to have a middle-class existence. Wealthy people can live well and invest or save large portions of their income (and would be better situated to "shelter" money in exempt purchases as envisioned in some of the proposals.

      Flat tax advocates and national sales tax advocates WANT either or both less federal revenue and a more regressive tax structure. If you want to sell these proposals on the basis that less government revenue,  and requiring the less affluent to pay a higher proportion of their income than the wealthy to provide it, are good things that people making smaller incomes should support knock yourself out.

      Just don't try to distort the truth of what these proposals really mean.


    That (none / 0) (#12)
    by Wile ECoyote on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 02:52:44 PM EST
    is why, if you read HR 25, you will see people get a predate for food each month.  You are doing pretty good distorting yourself, having not actually read any of the proposal.  

    OK i read it (none / 0) (#13)
    by Deconstructionist on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 03:03:19 PM EST
     and will inform you that in describing why it is "fair" it switches from s the effective rate of taxes on spending and  income. It says the guy spending 10 million dollars pays about 22% effective tax rate which is greater than the lesser spending family earning $30K.

      Conveniently, it neglects to mention the effective rate if the guy spending 10 million makes 100 millio or a guty making 10 million spends 1 million. An oversight I am sure.

    Sorry (none / 0) (#14)
    by Wile ECoyote on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 03:09:17 PM EST
    you lost me on the spelling or something.  

    It's not hard. (none / 0) (#16)
    by Deconstructionist on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 03:29:16 PM EST
    The site says that under "FAIR" the family making $30K would have an effective tax rate of 15.5% of income, but when it discussed the effective rate on the wealthy it switched to the effective rate on spending to come up with the 22.5%

     That's extremely misleading.

     If a person with 10 million in income spends 1 million his effective rate on SPENDING might be 22.5%, but his effective rate on INCOME will be about 2.25% or about 1/6th of the rate on the income of the family earning $30K.

      so, your "FAIR" tax system requires low income people to pay a many times greater proportion of its income than it would the very wealthy.

      Understand now?


    Of course (none / 0) (#17)
    by Wile ECoyote on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 03:43:30 PM EST
    not.  Where does it say people are "required" to pay a certain amount?

    That's true, i suppose (none / 0) (#20)
    by Deconstructionist on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 04:02:31 PM EST
     if everyone exercised their right to a standard of living at or below the poverty level we could not only eliminate ALL federal taxes but the government would be subsidizing all domestic consumption.

      A brilliant plan no doubt, I guess you are a true egalitarian.

      One question though, how do we sustain this poverty level society if the government has zero revenue with which to "prebate" everyone?

    here is more info to poke holes.. (none / 0) (#24)
    by Wile ECoyote on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 08:10:40 PM EST
    Is consumption a reliable source of revenue?

    Yes, in fact, consumption is a more stable source of revenue than income, as shown in Figure 3. The chart compares the yearly changes in the tax bases for the income tax (adjusted gross income -- AGI) and the FairTax (personal consumption expenditures -- PCE) for years 1974 to 2004. PCE has always grown from year to year, whereas AGI dropped from 2000 to 2001 and from 2001 to 2002 -- two years in a row. The higher growth rates of AGI in boom years result in overspending and then when the economy slows down either budget cuts are needed or, what is more often the case, taxes are raised or the budget deficit increases.

    chart here.

    How does the FairTax protect low-income and lower-middle-income families and individuals?

    Under the FairTax Plan, poor people pay no net FairTax at all up to the poverty level! Every household receives a rebate that is equal to the FairTax paid on essential goods and services, and wage earners are no longer subject to the most regressive and burdensome tax of all, the payroll tax. Those spending at twice the poverty level pay a tax of only 11.5 percent -- a rate much lower than the income and payroll tax burden they bear today.

    Under the federal income tax, slow economic growth and recessions have a disproportionately adverse impact on lower-income families. Breadwinners in these families are more likely to lose their jobs, are less likely to have the resources to weather bad economic times, and are more in need of the initial employment opportunities that a dynamic, growing economy provides. Retaining the present tax system makes economic progress needlessly slow, thus harming low-income people the most.

    In contrast, the FairTax dramatically improves economic growth and wage rates for all, but especially for lower-income families and individuals. In addition to receiving the monthly FairTax prebate, these taxpayers are freed from regressive payroll taxes, the federal income tax, and the compliance burdens associated with each. They pay no more business taxes hidden in the price of goods and services, and used goods are tax free.