1st District candidates clash over 'Fair Tax' proposal
BY ZACK STOYCOFF World Staff Writer
Thursday, October 11, 2012
10/11/12 at 8:20 AM
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COWETA - First Congressional District candidates Jim Bridenstine and John Olson traded familiar barbs Wednesday over a proposed national tax system that has become a focus of their race.
Speaking at a Coweta Chamber of Commerce candidate forum, the candidates again sparred over the "Fair Tax" - a proposal they have discussed at length in previous forums.
The system, promoted for years by conservative commentators, would close the Internal Revenue Service and replace all federal taxes with a sales tax rate of about 30 percent on most goods and services.
Bridenstine, a Republican, advocates it as a fairer alternative to a complicated tax code.
Olson, a Democrat, argues that it would burden the poor and middle class and that a federal agency would still have to administer the system.
He said Wednesday that consumers would have to "add 30 percent" to everything they buy. He rattled off examples such as groceries, gas and doctor visits.
Pointing to a provision that would require all levels of government to pay the sales tax on their purchases, he argued that cities would have to raise their own tax rates to compensate for the expense.
Bridenstine countered simply by saying that Olson does not understand the proposal.
"He doesn't know it. He hasn't read it," he said.
Proponents say the Fair Tax rate would be 23 percent, but they arrive at that figure by dividing a $30 tax on a $100 purchase by the post-tax amount of $130.
Local and state taxes are calculated using the pre-tax amount.
Proponents add that low-income consumers would have a lower tax rate - or none at all - because they would be given a "prebate" based on their level of spending.
The proposal exempts used items and business-to-business sales from the tax.
Remaining on the topic of taxes, Bridenstine pledged not to vote to raise taxes.
Olson said the top 1 percent of income-earners should be taxed more, comparing his request that they "pay their share in green" to the willingness of military service members to "pay their share in red."
The candidates, who were each limited to one five-minute speech, dedicated less time to other issues.
Bridenstine spent about a minute talking about health care, saying he would work to repeal the Affordable Care Act, colloquially known as Obamacare.
He said the law raises taxes and gives the federal government control over individual health-care choices.
Olson accused Bridenstine of seeking unwarranted cuts to Medicare.
He presented himself as "a work horse, not a show horse" and said he would work to increase revenue and reduce spending.
Bridenstine said he believes in "more liberty, more free markets and limited government."
Independent candidate Craig Allen, who spoke briefly during the forum, said he would bring a moderate platform uninfluenced by special-interest groups.
Original Print Headline: Candidates clash over 'Fair Tax' proposal
Zack Stoycoff 918-581-8486
First Congressional District Republican candidate Jim Bridenstine speaks Wednesday during a Coweta Chamber of Commerce candidate forum, which also featured candidates for local and state races. ZACK STOYCOFF/Tulsa World
John Olson, the Democratic nominee for Oklahoma's 1st District seat in Congress, speaks during the Coweta Chamber of Commerce's candidate forum Wednesday. ZACK STOYCOFF/Tulsa World