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Scrap It All For A Consumption Tax

A Consumption Tax Is the Shock Our Broken System Needs

By John Cochrane

Something remarkable happened. On Jan. 9, 2023, Georgia Rep. Buddy Carter introduced the “Fair Tax” bill to the House of Representatives, and secured a promise of a floor vote. The bill eliminates the personal and corporate income tax, estate and gift tax, payroll (Social Security and Medicare) tax and the Internal Revenue Service. It replaces them with a single national sales tax. Business investment is exempt, so it is effectively a consumption tax. Each household would get a check each month, so that purchases up to the poverty line are effectively not taxed.

Mainstream media and Democrats instantly deplored the measure. Mother Jones said it would “turbocharge inequality.” Rep. Pramila Jayapal called it a “tax cut for the rich, period.” The New Republic asserted that consumption taxes are “always a dumb idea”—but presumably not in Europe, where 20% value-added taxes finance welfare states—and called it a “Republican dream to build a wealth aristocracy.”

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