Sunday, October 23, 2005

Connie Mack Should Have Listened To Abraham Lincoln

"Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt."
Abraham Lincoln
I wish I could have been the first to blog about former Senator Connie Mack III's interview in today's NYT Magazine, but others, notably Paul Caron at TaxProf, beat me to it. Mack's own words show him to be, at the least, a fool.

With respect to the estate tax, he repeats the arguments, conclusively shown to be false, that (i) the estate tax falls especially heavily on family farms and (ii) that the tax is imposed on wealth that has already been subjected to income tax. (Here, his comments are a real gem: "[the] individuals who have accumulated [the assets subject to the estate tax] have paid taxes on them many times in their life [sic]." As I said, both propositions are false.

Mack attempts to immunize himself from a charge that he's a knave by claiming that he's really a fool. ("I don't know what the percentage breakdown [i.e., the way that the estate tax falls upon different groups based upon wealth] is."). This from the guy who chairs the President's Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform that is charged with developing a package of reforms of the federal tax system that are allegedly intended to allow, inter alia, for the:
  • Sharing the burdens and benefits of the Federal tax structure in an appropriately progressive manner, and

  • Promoting long-run economic growth and job creation, and better encourage work effort, saving, and investment, so as to strengthen the competitiveness of the United States in the global marketplace.
Mack goes on to dimiss the budget deficits created by tax cuts, saying that we can get the cash needed to fund the government by borrowing it from the Chinese. (I'm not kidding. Read the interview.)

Let's recap for a moment: Mack first admits that he does not know the facts concerning the distributional affects of at least one part of the tax system. He then shows that he lacks even a hint that large deficits weaken the competitiveness of the United States in the global marketplace.

The substance of Mack's remarks reveal him, at the least, to be a fool, if not a knave. However, nothing illustrates his stupidity quite as much as the fact that he offered his comments with the knowledge that they would be published. The interview has removed all doubt as to the weight that his conclusions as to tax reform should be afforded.

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