Mitch Daniels and VAT

by Andrew Stuttaford

The finances of the United States are in a terrible mess. Well-intentioned people can disagree about how that mess gets sorted out, but they ought to be able to agree that it will take some innovative thinking to get the country out of its current predicament. One way that you will not get innovative thinking is talk like this:

“This is outside the bounds of acceptable modern Republican thought, and it is only the zone of extremely left-wing Democrats who publicly talk about those things because all Democrats pretending to be moderates wouldn’t touch it with a 10-foot poll,” Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist told POLITICO. “Absent some explanation, such as large quantities of crystal meth, this is disqualifying. This is beyond the pale.”

Mr. Norquist was responding to remarks by Indiana governor Mitch Daniels appearing to suggest that the introduction of a VAT is something that maybe could be considered within the context of a more general tax reform.   

VAT is no panacea for the country’s budget woes, and there are some potentially strong arguments against its introduction, but there are also some strong conservative arguments for arguing (again, I’d stress, within the context of wider tax reform) that it might well be worth a look. Under the circumstances to suggest that it is “outside the bounds of acceptable Republican thought,” “beyond the pale,” and “disqualifying” is curious language indeed.

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