The other day, as I was reading about Tom Coburn mentioning impeachment for the first time, I noticed (as I wrote) that he just kinda said that, partly to toss some red meat to the Tulsa crowd, but what he was really trying to sell them on was the idea of a constitutional convention to rescue America from the likes of me before it's too late.
This idea is really the spawn of Mark Levin, the wingnut radio host, who has (of course) written a book about it. Life's too short to read the book, but I was intrigued enough by this idea to read an interview Levin did with Terry Jeffreys, who used to be but I don't think still is affiliated with that loopy Human Events magazine.
Levin's general view here, of course, is that Americans are choking to death with the federal jackboot across their necks; that the states are where most power was originally intended to reside; ergo, the states (two-thirds of the 50 state legislatures must pass resolutions agreeing to hold a convention to change the Constitution) have no choice in this desperate situation but to band together and act, passing a range of resolutions to limit the size and scope of the gummint.
What steps? Well, I always get a chuckle out of things like this:
Levin: I’d also do a number of other things. I limit the level of a tax, a flat tax, at 15 percent, and if Congress wants to adjust it underneath 15 percent, that’s perfectly fine. And of course I add a footnote to say that if we can get a fair tax, I’m all for it, but I think that would be more difficult, but I don’t object, of course.
Jeffrey: So, no matter how they taxed it away, the federal government couldn’t take more than 15 percent of your income.
Levin: Well, under the circumstances, no individual--and by individual, I also mean legal individual, corporations, what have you--under no circumstance could they take more than 15 percent of anyone’s income in any given year. I don’t care if we include death taxes, corporate taxes, individual income taxes, whatever it is. And, also, there ought to be no other forms of taxation, like a national sales tax or a VAT tax or what have you. Period.
Rawr! No more than 15 percent of your income. According to the Tax Foundation, the average taxpayer in 2009 (most recent year on this table) paid what percentage of her income to the federal government?
a. 25.43 percent
b. 19.88 percent
c. 11.06 percent.
Yep, it's C. Now that's income tax. Doesn't include payroll tax. So I guess that would push it above 15 percent for many, maybe most, people. But still. What Levin wants you to believe is that Americans are wildly overtaxed, and it just isn't remotely true.
The average figure has gone from 15.26 percent in 2000 to 11.06 in 2009. So people are paying less and less. Of course Levin and Jeffreys would say, after Mitt Romney, that that average number is skewed by the "moocher class," and there is certainly truth to this. But do they want a family of four living on $25,000 a year to pay 15 percent instead of the current 0 or 2 or 4 percent? Now that would be class warfare.
Maybe Mark Levin really means that people like Mark Levin are paying too much, but even the top 1 percent isn't paying what seems to me like all that much; 24 percent down from 27.5. That's who would benefit, of course, from a flat tax.
Still, I wish this movement luck. It may hasten the day we split into the two countries we probably should have remained after 1865. I haven't written about this in a while, but I'm kind of in a mood to start going back down that road. There are a lot of details to work out, but I really do think we'd all be happier in the long run.