It was just a couple of weeks ago that Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) unveiled his flat-tax plan, which is a bit of a mess. The Republican presidential hopeful assembled “an all-star team of the kookiest pseudo-economists in the history of the Republican Party” to help him craft a plan, and he came up with a 14.5% federal rate.
In practical terms, Paul is proposing a multi-trillion-dollar tax overhaul that the country couldn’t possibly afford. But in ideological terms, the GOP senator’s vision on tax policy is arguably even more outrageous.
BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski reported today on remarks Paul delivered last week in Cedar Rapids, Iowa:
Paul said he believes that “you have to give up some of your liberty to have government,” saying he was “for some government.”“I’m for paying some taxes,” continued Paul. “But if we tax you at 100% then you’ve got zero percent liberty. If we tax you at 50% you are half slave, half free. I frankly would like to see you a little freer and a little more money remaining in your communities so you can create jobs. It’s a debate we need to have.”
Well, maybe. We can have a debate, for example, about the correlation between income-tax cuts and job creation – which Rand Paul may not understand quite as well as he thinks he does. The senator might want to talk to Sam Brownback in Kansas about whether one leads to the other.
But once presidential candidates start equating taxpayers and slaves, there’s a more serious problem.
This may just have been a clumsy, unfortunate choice of words, but the idea that someone’s top rate is proportional to their slave status is, well, stark raving mad.
Slavery comparisons are always problematic – it is a singular, unique crime against humanity that does not lend itself to convenient parallels – but the idea that American taxpayers are enslaving themselves by financing the operations of their government is plainly wrong.
What’s more, it doesn’t even fit well into Paul’s framing. The GOP senator is prepared to impose a 14.5% flat tax. By his reasoning, would that make Americans one-seventh slave and six-sevenths free?
* Update: In 2011, Paul compared the “right to health care” to slavery. Note, in this particular analogy, he believed medical professionals would play the role of slaves. Oh my.