Drudge is claiming that Bush is going to introduce a new campaign issue. [Thanks to Imperfect but Forgiven for the link.] If Drudge is right, Bush wants to get rid of the IRS and replace it with a national sales tax or a value-added tax on specific kinds of items. This is an extremely bad idea, both politically and in terms of just governing.
This sort of policy is unjust largely because it requires poor people like us who don't pay taxes to pay taxes. The only taxes we currently pay are phone, utility, medicare, social security, and state sales tax and other taxes added at purchase (e.g. gas tax). Those are the taxes that people, regardless of their income, pay. A good tax relief plan should minimize increases in these taxes or even decrease them. The tax policy as it is allows people under a certain income to be exempt from any income tax. What Bush is proposing may be good for the majority of middle-class people, and it may allow collecting on money made illegally, because it's collected when spent and not when earned, but the downside is really not worth it.
One of the Democrats' claims about the tax cuts under Bush has been that it caused property taxes to go up. The difference there is that local authorities raised property taxes rather than doing something else that won't as much affect people in lower income brackets who happen to own a house. Bush didn't. Here he'd be doing something directly that would increase taxes on the poor. I thought only people like Dick Gephardt wanted to do things like that.
Is Bush really going to propose such a thing without a way to exempt poor people somehow? But how will he exempt poor people? It could only be by paying them upfront beforehand or refunding them afterward, both bad ideas. You can't anticipate what you spend, so how can the government pre-pay you? You have less to spend if you can only get it refunded later, so that would slow recovery among the lowest brackets. I really hope he doesn't make this a campaign issue, because I'd have a hard time voting for him. I've been very supportive of him. I've defended his claims about Islam that have gotten him in trouble with evangelicals. I've defended his compassionate conservatism that's gotten him in trouble with small-government conservatives. I've defended his overall actions with respect to Iraq, even if some specific decisions are questionable. I've even defended his plan for immigration reform as stemming from genuinely Christian values. This sort of tax plan I won't defend.
It wouldn't get me to vote for Kerry. Nothing will, at this point. Still, Bush may lose a lot of votes, including mine, if he intends to do something this bad. I hope Drudge is just being Drudge. I don't think I'd be better taxwise with Kerry, but I'm not sure I could in good conscience vote for either one if both want to increase my taxes even when I'm in the lowest bracket. It's possible that the badness of Kerry would still get Bush my vote, but it would make what's so far been an obvious choice a much harder decision.