By Scott Tibbs, March 18, 2008
Former U.S. Representative Mike Sodrel spoke to the IU College Republicans last night. Sodrel opened his speech by saying he has heard the word "change" so much that it is practically nauseating. But what kind of "change" do we need to pursue? Sodrel said we have led the world since 1776 in government, innovation and industry, but the vision of "change" some want is to have us follow the world for a change. Should "change" include following Canada into socialized medicine? Larger government and higher taxes is not change, Sodrel said, it is more of the same.
Sodrel lamented that too many people view politics like a sports competition, where winning is the ultimate goal. "Winning" the tally of votes on election night should not be the end in and of itself, it should be the beginning of the path to helping our country. It is here where I believe Sodrel "gets it" in a way that so many Republicans, locally and nationally, do not. It isn't about getting Republicans elected. Getting Republicans elected is a means to an end: governing to make this country the best it can possibly be.
A student asked Sodrel about the "fair tax", which Sodrel has clearly researched and is excited about. Sodrel said that 22% of the cost of something you purchase at the cash register is made up of taxes. If you go to a consumption tax, that will make foreign goods be taxed at the same rate as domestic goods and allow us to export goods tax-free, since goods consumed outside our borders will not be taxed.
My biggest concern about the Fair Tax has always been the prospect of having a sales tax and an income tax at the same time. Sodrel offered a solution to that problem: a "poison pill" in legislation establishing the Fair Tax abolishing it if Congress re-institutes an income tax or fails to repeal the 16th Amendment within 10 years. When I was in college and gave a speech on the flat tax, I took the cash out of my wallet before leaving for class so I could use an empty wallet to demonstrate what would happen if the government taxed both production and consumption. Repealing the 16th Amendment is absolutely critical to any effort to move from an income tax to a consumption tax.
The Republican Party needs more candidates like Sodrel, who echo the positive reformist vision that helped the Republicans win control of congress for the first time in 40 years 14 years ago. Sodrel has quoted Proverbs 29:18 many times over the last year and a half, "Where there is no vision, the people perish." The Republican Party had lost its vision, becoming more concerned with holding onto power than with the ideas that got them elected in the first place. Had Republicans followed Sodrel's example, they would not have lost the House and Senate in 2006.