Bartiromo, Cavuto should ask: What sorts of "crazy" budget proposals will get examined tonight?
Consider Chuck Todd's recent discussion with the Candidate Fiorina. Their brief discussion was shown, on tape, on Sunday's Meet the Press.
Todd began with a small complaint. He noted that Fiorina doesn't have a full-blown budget proposal:
TODD (11/8/15): We've already heard from three of the main outsider candidates for president today. Yesterday, I caught up with another, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Carly Fiorina.Fiorina has presented no detailed tax plan, Todd said. Presumably, the other slacker to whom Todd referred is the front-running Candidate Carson.
And I asked her why she is one of just two candidates who have yet to release a detailed tax plan, or, frankly, any policy plans on her Web site. Here's her answer.
Why hasn't Fiorina presented a budget plan? Her initial answer bordered on the absurd:
FIORINA (continuing directly): Well, let me disagree with the premise of your question.At that point, Todd interrupted. Here's what was wrong so far:
How often do politicians put out detailed plans? How often do they get enacted?
Never! That's the problem. Politicians put out detailed plans for all kinds of things, it never happens. But if you go to the carlyforpresident.com Web site, what you can do is ask a question and you will see me answering the question in public, verbally. In other words, I am being held accountable.
A plan—anybody can write a plan. Anybody can put a plan on a Web site. It's another thing to say, "You know what I think we need do?" and say it over and over again in public and be held accountable for this.
You know what I think we need to do? We need to go from a 73,000 page tax code, which is what we have today, with 4,000 changes since 2001 and we need to get it down to about three. And what that means is we need to close every loophole and lower every rate. Maybe there are two or three loopholes—
First, politicians do present, and then enact, detailed budget plans. In Campaign 2000, Candidate Bush presented a detailed tax plan. In 2001, it was formally proposed, and then enacted, with very few major changes.
Beyond that, Fiorina's presentation didn't make much sense. If she will tell us what her budget plan is, why can't she just write it down?
In fact, what she's saying is quite vague where the rubber meets the road. Improbably, Fiorina says we should reduce the tax code from 73,000 pages down to just three. To do that, she says we need to "close every loophole and lower every rate."
Todd should have stopped her right there. Would she really get rid of every "loophole"--of every deduction which helps create that lengthy tax code?
She seemed to say she would retain a few. Would she get rid of the standard deduction? We ask that question for a reason, as we'll note below.
Second point: Fiorina said she would "lower every tax rate" as part of the process of winnowing down the tax code. That said, lowering tax rates doesn't simplify or shorten the tax code. (She may simply mean that she would lower tax rates to offset the loss of all those deductions.)
Which "loopholes" would Fiorina retain? the question is very important. When Todd broke in, he challenged her in a sensible way. But in the end, she simply restated her previous formula:
TODD: So we shouldn't expect a tax plan out of you any time soon, on paper?This time around, Fiorina brooked no exceptions. She'll close every "loophole," she said. She'll lower every rate.
FIORINA: I've given you a tax plan. I've given you a tax plan. It needs to be three pages. And the only way to get there is to lower every rate and close every loophole.
Given her recent drop in the polls, Fiorina doesn't seem especially viable at this point. She doesn't seem to going anywhere. Candidate Carson still is.
Carson is leading many GOP polls. Here's why we would have liked to see Todd ask Fiorina about specific "loopholes:"
It sounds to us like Candidate Carson wants to dump the standard deduction in the course of enacting his single-rate tax. Here's how he described his plan two months ago, at the first GOP debate:
CARSON (8/6/15): We need a significantly changed taxation system. And the one that I've advocated is based on tithing, because I think God is a pretty fair guy.Candidate Carson has sometimes said that it's "condescending" to the poor to treat them differently within the tax code. It sounds to us like he would do without the standard deduction, the way God did back in the day.
And he said, you know, "If you give me a tithe, it doesn't matter how much you make. If you've had a bumper crop, you don't owe me triple tithes. And if you've had no crops at all, you don't owe me no tithes." So there must be something inherently fair about that.
And that's why I've advocated a proportional tax system. You make $10 billion, you pay a billion. You make $10, you pay one. And everybody gets treated the same way. And you get rid of the deductions, you get rid of all the loopholes, and—
(DOUBLE BELL RINGS)
BAIER: Governor Bush?
CARSON: And I have a lot more to say about it.
Presumably, that would massively increase the federal tax burden on the bottom half of the income scale. This man is leading the Republican polls. Could someone possibly ask him about his basic ideas in this area?
Three months ago, Carson said he had "a lot more to say about" federal taxes. As of today, the cupboard at his web site is almost completely bare concerning his tax proposals.
Carson is proposing a major overhaul of the tax system. Fox Business is running tonight's debate. Bartiromo and Cavuto should get off their ascots and ask what he plans to do.
Will they ask him about the trillions of dollars he would move around in tax policy? Or will they ask about the ten-dollar bill he says that professor once gave him?
Given the press corps' "plutocrat bias," can anyone really be sure?