In my column this week for the Hoover publication Defining Ideas, I argue that James Madison would have supported a flat tax.
To Madison, the chief mission of government is to develop permanent institutional restraints to guard against factions On this point, it is necessary to insist, as a constitutional matter, that all taxes be flat, as yet another protection against the risks of redistribution of wealth through faction. This can be done through a consistent application of the Takings Clause. There is, in principle, no watertight distinction between taxes and takings. In both cases, the government is allowed to take so long as it supplies compensation. Without a flat tax, popular groups can isolate and outvote persons of property in ways that will give Congress more resources to spend money on special programs whose costs are high and benefits are dubious…I explain further over at Defining Ideas.
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