Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson appeared on Fox News Sunday on May 10 and was probably surprised when host Chris Wallace challenged his flat tax proposal.
Carson proves that he really has no clue about economics when he tells Wallace that a flat tax would be like a “tithe.” The Bible says that Christians should give, or “tithe” ten percent of their income to the church. Carson wants everyone to pay a ten percent flat tax. He says that even poor people want to help out by paying taxes, and he seems to think that someone who only makes $10 wouldn’t miss the dollar they would contribute in taxes, any more than someone who makes $10 billion would miss the $1 billion they would pay.
Wallace points out that economists say to maintain the current level of government revenue, a flat tax would have to be somewhere around 20 percent, perhaps a little more. Wallace says that, under a flat tax plan, low and middle income families would pay more in taxes, while the rich would receive (another) huge tax cut.
Carson tells Wallace that he doesn’t believe Wallace’s figures are correct. He says that economists have told him that by eliminating loopholes and deductions, a rate of around 10 to 15 percent would be satisfactory.
Writing in response to Carson’s appearance on Fox News Sunday, Forbes columnist Tim Worstall says Carson’s statement “simply is not so.” Worstall explains that in 2014, the government’s take in taxes was 17.5 percent of the GDP. That means that in order to raise that same level of income through a flat tax, that tax would have to tax everything that is a part of the GDP, at 17.5 percent. But, he continues, there are some things that are part of the GDP that cannot be taxed. So, Worstall says, the numbers from the Tax Policy Center cited by Wallace are about correct.
Carson may be a brilliant surgeon, but when it comes to economics, his ideas are likely to kill the patient.
Here’s the video, via Media Matters:
Featured image: via Gage Skidmore/Flickr