Kentucky’s Republican nominee for Senate, Rand Paul, is running away from his past support for abolishing the federal income tax in favor of a national sales tax, according to reports on the ground in the Bluegrass State.
The move is the latest walkback from the past for Paul, who started out the campaign as some kind of libertarian-tea party hybrid, unafraid to talk on national television about things like the problems he saw in the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Since winning the nomination, however, Paul has headed in pretty much a straight line toward establishment Republican policies when it comes to his campaign rhetoric. The national sales tax shift appears to be part of that trend.
Some conservatives have long called for the abolition of the 16th Amendment — which created the income tax — and the creation of a national sales tax as high as 25 cents on the dollar in its place. They argue the sales tax would be more fair. Detractors say it would hit low-income taxpayers the hardest, pretty much undoing exactly what the progressive income tax structure was supposed to do in the first place. Paul used to be one of those who called for a national sales tax, according to reports, though now he claims he never was.
On Tuesday, the AP reported that Americans For Fair Taxation, a national sales tax advocacy group, sent reporters a written statement from Paul showing his support for the proposal:
“The federal tax code is a disaster no one would come up with if we were starting from scratch,” Paul said in the statement. “I support making taxes flatter and simpler. I would vote for the FairTax to get rid of the Sixteenth Amendment, the IRS and a lot of the control the federal government exerts over us.”
The AP reported that Paul’s campaign “verified” the statement when asked about it. Paul didn’t seem to keen to discuss it himself, however. He “declined to answer questions on the issue during a campaign stop,” the AP reported.
Today, Paul is more than willing to talk about the fair tax — or rather, his total disinterest in discussing the concept at this time.
“I really haven’t been saying anything like that,” Paul told reporters, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. Paul said “he supports a simpler tax code, but the nation first has to bring spending under control.”
As the Herald-Leader wrote, Paul was on shaky ground when he said he has “never said anything like” support for the fair tax.
“He apparently meant he had not been saying it on the campaign trail,” the paper reports.
The TPM Poll Average shows Paul leading Democratic nominee Jack Conway by a margin of 46.9-41.7.