BATSHIT INSANE….Knight Ridder reports on ideas for reforming our tax system:

A national sales tax would hit consumers at the retail level, just like state and local sales taxes….Sales-tax advocates, whose ranks include House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas, see Bush’s initiative as a chance to build public support for their idea. Legislation to create a national sales tax already has been introduced in Congress.

As Matt points out, Tom DeLay’s proposed 23% sales tax is really a 30% sales tax if you figure the numbers in the conventional way. What’s more, once you figure in the costs of evasion and then add in all the exemptions that are certain to be included (on mortgage payments or stock purchases, for example), it’s closer to 40%.

But the wonkery isn’t really what’s interesting here. Rather, it’s the fact that this idea is batshit insane. It’s one of those things that sounds good during a barroom argument but doesn’t withstand even a moment’s scrutiny in the light of day. Trust me on this: I doubt there’s a single serious tax analyst ? liberal, conservative, or otherwise ? who would give this even a moment’s consideration. It’s not a matter of ideology, it’s that they know it’s completely unworkable.

And yet Tom DeLay and Dennis Hastert, two of the most senior legislators in the Republican party, have gone on record saying that this seems like a fine idea. Next up they’ll be talking about abolishing the Federal Reserve and returning to the gold standard. If DeLay and Hastert were a couple of John Birch Society backbenchers, this wouldn’t be worth a notice. But aren’t there any adults left in the Republican party who are scared to death that guys like this are their leaders? Anyone?

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