The Sunday Editorial in The Herald…
The issue: “FairTax” vs. “Fair Tax for Lee County”
Our view: Don’t be fooled. They’re BOTH doing good work.
With Election Day coming Tuesday, and with campaigns gearing up for the final push, we’re reminded that politics is a sophisticated business. Everywhere, strategists and consultants and professional marketing firms are working overtime to figure out how to sway voters. Issues are important, but in our busy electronic age, who has time for them? Sound bites and imaging work just as well.
So does deception.
Most successful strategies require plenty of thought, but sometimes the brainstorm is more sudden; occasionally, a campaign strategy appears as if it were manna sent from heaven. That’s how organizations opposed to the .25-cent sales tax measure on Tuesday’s ballot must have felt when it occurred to them that the national “FairTax” movement and the local “Fair Tax for Lee County”
push and were similar enough stir already-muddy waters.
“FairTax” (two words pushed together as one) is, according to www.fairtax.org, a comprehensive proposal that would replace all federal income and payroll-based taxes with an integrated, revenue-neutral approach that includes a progressive national retail sales tax and a repeal of the 16th amendment. Their stance is: “Let’s abolish the IRS and make April 15 just another spring day.”
“Fair Tax (two words) for Lee County” is the name of a local ad hoc group operating and based out of the Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce which, with the blessing and endorsement of a long list of business, education and civic-minded individuals and organizations, favors the .25-cent increase in the local sales tax (back to the level it was last summer) to help fund repairs and renovations at Lee County High School and at Central Carolina Community College. Their stance is: “Because everyone pays it (including those shopping here from other counties), and because it has far less impact than a property tax increase, let’ s approve the .25-cent sales tax.”
Confused? Probably not. But the anti-tax groups are telling you that you should be, insisting that the Chamber, in taking on the assignment of putting together the local group, has intentionally hijacked the “FairTax” name – perhaps infringing upon a trademark along the way – to dupe voters. Dallas Woodhouse, the state director of Americans for Prosperity, told The Herald this week that it’s “a shame” that supporters of the .25-cent tax are “so desperate to raise taxes they will try to fool the public.”
If the shoe fits…
In reality, AFP has, by all appearances, resorted to desperation to defeat the tax. They used minor scare tactics this week in a “mayday” event to issue a “distress call” about the tax. Then, seeing an opportunity to take advantage of the similarity between “Fair Tax for Lee County” and “FairTax,” they pounced.
In this space one week ago, The Herald endorsed the .25-cent sales tax. We said then that regardless of whatever poor planning and execution had put Lee County High School in its state of disrepair, the sales tax issue on Tuesday’s ballot was the best way to immediately take steps to fix the problems. There’ll be plenty of time to address legitimate concerns raised by anti-tax groups such as AFP and the John Locke Foundation as we move forward, but we need to act today.
We need to approve the .25-cent sales tax because it is, ultimately, a fair tax.