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Mitch Perry Report for 6.18.15 — Rand Paul becomes the latest pol to promise to “blow up the tax code”

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Rand Paul today is unveiling his “Fair and Flat Tax,” where he aims to repeal the entire IRS tax code and replace it with a broad-based 14.5 percent tax on individuals and businesses. He says he would eliminate “nearly” every special-interest loophole, while also eliminating the payroll tax on workers and several federal taxes outright, including gift and estate taxes, telephone taxes, and all duties and tariffs.

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Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has been touting a similar plan for over eight years now. And Ben Carson is touting a flat-tax of 10 percent.

In laying out his plan in an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal, Paul warns that “the challenge to this plan will be to overcome special-interest groups in Washington who will muster all of their political muscle to save corporate welfare. That’s what happened to my friend Steve Forbes when he ran for president in 1996 on the idea of the flat tax. Though the flat tax was surprisingly popular with voters for its simplicity and its capacity to boost the economy, crony capitalists and lobbyists exploded his noble crusade.”

There will be loads of opposition to the plan, and not just among the special interest groups. Progressive groups for years have said the flat tax is not a fair tax. Four years ago Robert Reich blasted the concept, saying that variations of a flat tax end up benefitting the rich more than the poor for one simple reason: “Today’s tax code is still at least moderately progressive. The rich usually pay a higher percent of their incomes in income taxes than do the poor. A flat tax would eliminate that slight progressivity,” he writes.

This is the time to make unrealistic campaign proposals, though, isn’t it? Jeb Bush keeps on saying that he can double the economic growth rate in this country from the very sluggish 2.4 percent of a year ago to four percent if he’s elected president. How? He hasn’t really said yet. But hey, it’s only June, as Jeb likes to say.

In other news..

Jeb Bush is coming to Tampa on Friday night. Reporters like yours truly were looking forward to the chance to ask a question or two of the newly minted presidential candidate. Too bad we won’t be able to now.

Speaking of Jeb, a new national poll released by Public Policy Polling yesterday shows that while he’s close to Scott Walker in leading the GOP race, he’s really, really unpopular with hardline conservatives.

Jeb’s super PAC, Right to Rise, is soon going to announce that it’s raised close to $100 million, and some of that is coming from political action committees controlled by Florida Republican lawmakers.

United for Care, the activist group responsible for getting the medical marijuana ballot on the 2014 ballot, is ready to do it all over again for 2016, they announced yesterday.

Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill told County Commissioners yesterday they’ve cleaned up some of the interesting behavior going on with the firefighters union.

A Quinnipiac Poll released yesterday shows despite all the hype about our favorite sons in Florida, Hillary Clinton is leading both Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio in the Sunshine State.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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