Flattening Iraq

FLATTENING IRAQ….Laugh or cry? You make the call:

The flat tax, long a dream of economic conservatives, is finally getting its day — not in the United States, but in Iraq.

It took L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator in Baghdad, no more than a stroke of the pen Sept. 15….

Voila, Iraq has a flat tax, and the 15 percent rate is even lower than Forbes (17 percent) and Gramm (16 percent) favored for the United States. And, unless a future Iraqi government rescinds it, the flat tax will remain long after the Americans have left.

“It’s extremely good news,” said Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform and a Bush administration ally. Bremer’s vaguely worded edict leaves open the possibility that Iraqis could face different levels of taxation below 15 percent, but “they told me it’s a flat rate and it appears as though it’s a flat rate,” Norquist said. The tax fighter added: “It might be a hint to the rest of us.”

I don’t doubt that this makes some sense in a place like Iraq ? what’s the point of a complex tax system in a country with 70% unemployment? ? but the idea that the flat-taxers think of this as some kind of ideological victory shows just how desperate they are. Norquist is apparently pining away for the day when America has the same tax system as economic powerhouses like Russia, the Ukraine, and Iraq.

Of course, Norquist has a longstanding interest in, um, slightly less than progressive elements in the Middle East. Mark Kleiman has more.