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Are Supply-Siders Writing News Stories For Politico?

Politico reports that conservatives are burning Indiana governor Mitch Daniels at the stake for suggesting the possibility of replacing an income tax with a Value-Added Tax. (Conservatives actually tend to like the idea, but fear the result would be to add a VAT on top of the income tax.)

Anyway, Politico's story includes this odd bit of conservative talking points:

Many of the countries in Europe that implemented value-added taxes, including Greece, stagnated. A VAT has never permanently replaced the income tax anywhere in the world, and no country has ever been able to get rid of a VAT once it has gone into effect.

That isn't a GOP source talking, it's the author. It's an almost hilariously propagandistic formulation. First of all, every European country has a Value-Added Tax. Have they all "stagnated"? Well, every country, including the U.S., has periods of stagnation from time to time. But it's hardly the case that all of Europe has stagnated. VAT countries include Thatcher-era Britain, Ireland, and other places cited by conservatives as dynamic market economies.

Second, you have to love the gratuitous mention of Greece, as if it's a cautionary tale of what happens when you impose a VAT. Greece, of course, has replaced France as the conservative bogeyman and symbol of what could happen under liberalism. But, again, every European country has a VAT. And Greece's problem isn't the VAT, it's the imbalance between expenditures and revenues. Abolishing Greece's VAT wouldn't exactly help that.

Finally, there's the claim that "no country has ever been able to get rid of a VAT once it has gone into effect." It's kind of like saying that no country has been able to get rid of indoor plumbing once it has gone into effect. Of course they're "able to" get rid of the VAT. They're democracies! They just don't want to get rid of it because it works. If lots of countries were adopting the VAT and then later abolishing it, that might be evidence it doesn't work.