Congratulations on the release of your new book, End the IRS Before It Ends U$: How to Restore a Low Tax, High Growth, Wealthy America! Your book was featured as our New Release of the Week last week. Can you give us an overview of the book?
End the IRS Before it Ends U$ begins as a history of taxation in the United States. In 1774, American colonists were paying one to two percent of their incomes in taxes. The British in London were paying 20 percent. How in the world did Americans get talked into allowing their federal, state, and local tax burden to drift upwards to 30 percent of their income?
Wars came and went but the taxes stayed. The Friends of Government (one of the original terms for pro-British “Loyalists”) perfected a series of tricks to convince a nation forged in a tax revolt to accept new and higher taxes:
“Here, try this tax it will allow us to reduce other taxes.”
“This tax will be temporary.”
“This tax is only on the rich.”
“This tax is an emergency.”
“Someone else will pay this tax.”
Then the book turns to the story of the tax revolt begun with Proposition 13 in California, the Reagan Revolution, and the Kemp-Roth tax cuts. The creation of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge signaled the victory of the taxpayers’ movement. And yet while Republicans learned to oppose higher taxes they failed to focus on reforming government to reduce spending. And then, in reaction to massive spending, TARP, the Obama “Stimulus,” and Obamacare, the Tea party rose up and changed America.
Suddenly, spending itself became toxic. Earmarks were no longer a sign of how powerful a congressman was but how corrupt. The faceoff between the Tea Party House of Representatives post-2010 and Obama over the debt ceiling…and our victory of $2.5 trillion in spending reduction with the sequester spending cap, happened without any “trade” of higher taxes.
And the final part of the book is an outline of the paths to restore limited government, high rates of economic growth and individual liberty. Making government more transparent, moving government pensions to defined contribution and away from unsustainable defined benefit structures. We can and must make a U-turn away from our present road to serfdom.
What three takeaways would you like readers to leave with after reading your book?
All taxpayers should be armed against the siren song of tax and spenders trying to sell us yet another tax hike. The list of tricks is limited and endlessly repeated — unless we learn the lessons of history and refuse to fall for lies that tricked our great grandparents.
We can turn things around. The Paul Ryan budget plan that has passed the House of Representatives four times now will reduce the cost of government as a percentage of the total economy in half over the next forty years. That future requires only a president, House and 51 votes in the Senate to win.
Spending reform is key to winning tax reform. It is much easier to reduce the IRS to manageable size — and maybe even end the income tax — if government spending is reformed to cost less.
Are there any 2016 presidential candidate(s) you like yet?
It is amazing how many talented Republican governors are presenting themselves as possible candidates. The other team has Hillary Clinton, a retread by marriage with a track record at the State Department that does not inspire enthusiasm.
Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker made reforms in state public sector labor law that will soon be enacted by all Republican-led states. Governor Rick Perry of Texas served as governor of the nation’s most successful state for 14 years. Chris Christie of New Jersey reduced the unfunded liability of the state’s pension system by $130 billion over the next 30 years and vetoed all tax hikes passed by his Democrat legislature. Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal cut taxes, expanded school choice, passed a real ethics law and began the campaign to eliminate the income tax. Florida’s former governor Jeb Bush was a cutting edge reformer when he served ten years ago.
As President of Americans for Tax Reform, you run the highly influential Wednesday Morning Meeting in Washington, DC. Can you give our readers a little window into what the meeting is and what it aims to do?
Twenty-two years ago we created the “Wednesday Meeting” to bring together center-right leaders and activists for a weekly coalition meeting. The meeting has grown from 20 attendees to now 150-plus. Each week 30 people present on what they are doing for three minutes each. The focus is on what you are doing, not how much you care about issue X.
The meeting presentations are forward looking. Whining about how others are not doing what you want is not a useful way to spend everyone’s time.
Modeled after the DC meeting, there are now similar meetings in 45 states and 17 nations. The movement is best organized when everyone knows what everyone else is doing. It inspires cooperation and learning from “best practices” discovered by others.
You also initiated the famous Taxpayer Protection Pledge. What is the “Pledge” and do you believe it’s worked over the years?
The Taxpayer Protection Pledge is a simple, public, written statement to the taxpayers that an elected official or candidate for office will “oppose and vote against” any net tax hike.
The pledge allows room for revenue-neutral Reagan-style tax reform that lowers rates and reduces the size and number of tax credits and deductions. Tax reform yes. Tax increases no.
The value of the pledge is that it is public. It is written down. A politician who says that “this is not the time” for tax hikes or that “raising taxes is the last thing” he would do has not actually promised he or she would not raise taxes…just that it would pain them to do so.
What books or conservative-themed books, influenced your political philosophy?
The Mystery of Capital and The Other Path by Hernando De Soto
The Defence of Duffer’s Drift by Major General Sir Ernest Dunlop Swinton. Published in 1904.
Lastly, many people know of Grover Norquist as the Taxpayer Advocate. Can you tell us though a little bit about what Grover Norquist does when he’s not fighting the tax-hikers? What does he like to do for fun? Is it true that you’ve even done some stand-up comedy before? J
I have two wonderful daughters now 6 and 7. They keep me focused and happy. I have performed stand up comedy in DC and have an invitation to do six minutes onstage at the L.A. Comedy Store. Next up is to learn a set of magic tricks.
When I read for pleasure, it is historically based murder mysteries. Steven Saylor’s series of mysteries set in Caesar’s Rome, for instance.
Thank you Grover for taking the time and congratulations on your new book! Keep us posted on the comedy routines!
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