Despite the recent chatter about a flat income tax — a tax that every income earner pays regardless of their level of income — the idea is dead unless its supporters figure out a way to get together and support the idea that a flat tax is a fair tax. I believe we can unite.
In a system of flat taxation there is only one level of taxation. Everybody pays the same rate no matter how much money they earn. Taxpayers are not punished for having succeeded by being taxed at rates higher than that paid by the lowest earners of income.
It's not a new idea. My Dad was a supporter of the flat tax proposal, but he recognized the problems inherent in passing it into law.
One problem has to do with uncertainty and political opportunism. There's an old adage that decrees that only two things in life are certain: death and taxes. And just as likely is the fact that any proposal to change the tax code — even change for the better — is bound to create uncertainty as people examine proposals in light of their own finances.
This creates a wedge for Democrats to use against Republicans.
Democrats and the liberal media are now trying to turn uncertainty into chaos as they highlight every situation that might affect somebody in some obscure way as the result of the various Republican proposals.
But we should not lose sight of the fact that their agenda has nothing to do with fairness, and has everything to do with punishing Americans for the "crimes" of earning money, providing jobs, and not wanting to be dependent on the state.
As my Dad saw it, the entire federal tax system needed to be revised. I agree that's still the case. But there is work to be done, and we must not allow ourselves to feed the liberal narrative that Republicans will be unable to unite behind a candidate or a tax plan.
One place to start is to reconcile the Flat Taxers and the Fair Taxers, those who support some sort of national sales tax as in Herman Cain's 9-9-9 Plan. If neither side will support the other, we will be exactly where the IRS and the administration want us to be — split on an important issue.
If we don't come together on this issue, Washington and the IRS can sit back and laugh, and keep their hands in our pockets. And they'll be laughing at us.
Just remember that a flat tax is a fair tax. Nobody gets penalized for earning more than the average wage earner. No matter how much money one earns, one pays the same rate of taxation everybody else pays.
That doesn't mean they pay the same amount of taxes everybody else pays — merely that they pay the same percentage of their income everybody else pays. Nobody gets punished for making more than the average wage earner.
Unfortunately, there is a segment of our population that recoils in horror at the sight of somebody who, by dint of their efforts, earns more than the average worker or even aspires to do so.
Democrats believe that people must be penalized for their success by being forced to pay ever-increasing taxes. In their eyes, success breeds contempt.
This is the group that opposes a flat tax, and they must be defeated in 2012. I have no doubt that Republicans can unite to make sure that happens.
Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a political consultant, and the author of "The New Reagan Revolution" (St. Martin's Press, 2011). He is the founder and chairman of The Reagan Group and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Visit his website at www.reagan.com.
© Mike Reagan