I’ve gotten some intense comments to my post “Barrett Taxed In Debate.”  I was told I needed to educate myself, that I “lost the argument” and “owe [my] readers an apology.”  All because I referenced Congressman (and gubernatorial candidate) Gresham Barrett’s co-sponsorship of legislation that was, essentially, a nation value added tax.

Well, I got some of that much needed education today.  The State newspaper reports: “Barrett pulls backing for trade bill:”


15 thoughts on “FLIP!

  1. I will gladly explain to you how this does not prove anything and that you continue to be incorrect.

    In your post last you had accused Barrett of “support[ing]…a national value added…tax.”

    As you’ve seemed to realize, the bill would be a tariff on countries who use their VAT system to refund exporters for the tax value of exported goods; as you are surely aware, by WTO rules, American exporters can get no such subsidies. There are definitely downsides to this sort of tariff; I imagine that these downsides were what drove Barrett to remove his name as a cosponsor. But a realization about a particular tariff’s downsides does not mean that the bill would have imposed a VAT; these are not “semantical” differences, but basic definitional differences.

    Are property taxes a VAT? No. Are income taxes a VAT? No. You cannot call an entirely different tariff a “VAT” and play if off as “semantical” differences.

    Moreover, how would the Border “open[] the door for” a VAT?

    As I said earlier, there are very legitimate policy arguments regarding tariffs and tax structure. However, it’s impossible to have worthwhile discussion if you’re so keen on mislabeling, misunderstanding, and misrepresenting the different types of taxes, tariffs, and fees.


  2. He’s right.

    Are you and Haley going to APOLOGIZE for BEING WRONG about WHAT THE BILL DID?

    APOLOGIZE don’t make EXCUSES


  3. I think you are making a mountain out of a mole hill. The bill will tax (charge a tariff) those countries that tax (charge a tariff) us for our goods. It appears this is an attempt to recovery some of the costs of doing business with other countries. Just because the word tax is used, although incorrectly, does not make this a bad thing.


  4. I’m so confused. If the bill Barrett supported was so wonderful, why did he withdraw his support? If it’s to avoid any criticism, why can’t he stand up and defend himself with sound, logical arguments (similar to what some of the posters have done… for the most part)? Why won’t he just say “it’s good, it’s not a VAT, and I’m still supporting it because of reasons X, Y, and Z? Also, here’s why Ms. Haley’s wrong…”

    Why can’t he do that?

    Obviously, after further examination of the bill (who knows what made him take a closer look *cough* Haley *cough*), he’s decided to withdraw support. That means, either he’s a flip-flopper (I hate that term), he didn’t read the original bill, or after having it pointed out that it doesn’t fall in line with conservative values, he simply agreed (which he himself said in the article).

    So, for all the Barrett supporters on here, do YOU support the bill? Barrett doesn’t. So who are you defending? The Spy stated it was a VAT (literally or theoretically). Barrett himself realized that, even if it isn’t directly a VAT, it’s effects are the same. Hence, the change of heart.

    So, again, who are you defending?


    • I will repeat what I said earlier: “there are very legitimate policy arguments regarding tariffs and tax structure. However, it’s impossible to have worthwhile discussion if you’re so keen on mislabeling, misunderstanding, and misrepresenting the different types of taxes, tariffs, and fees.”

      I am not taking a position on whether the bill is good policy or bad. Instead, I take issue with the description of the bill as a VAT. It is not a VAT, “literally or theoretically.” It is a tariff. Its only relation to a VAT is that it levies a tariff on goods that come from countries with VAT. You can be opposed to the bill yet still realize that it’s not a VAT (which I surmise is Barrett’s position).

      Perhaps, the issue is that you don’t know what a VAT is. Do you?


      • You’re making every argument EXCEPT the one in question.

        Why did Barrett change his position? Political posturing? He didn’t read the original bill? or did he realize that its EFFECTS would be the same as a VAT (and yes, by definition, it’s not a VAT)?

        I like you’re “I know you are but what am I?” argument. Yes, you’re the only one in the WORLD who knows what a VAT is, including me, Barrett, Haley, the Spy, Obama, Rep. Wilson, etc.

        Is that really where you want to focus your efforts? On finding out if every poster on this blog knows what a VAT is, when I surmise that everyone on this site DOES know. When the point of the article is that Barrett changed his mind because he either caved to political pressure, “got beat by a girl”, didn’t read the bill, or he himself thought that it was too much like a VAT to be “in line with his conservative values”, why do you refuse to acknowledge any of those issues, when that’s the whole point?

        You may know what a VAT is (congratulations on rescuing that droplet from the well of knowledge), but tell me, did Barrett change his mind because:

        A) he didn’t read the original bill
        B) he got beat by a girl
        C) political posturing
        D) he realized it was too much like a VAT, even if it wasn’t one literally.

        It can only be one of those four, so circle one. And if you respond by saying “you didn’t answer my question: do you know what a VAT is” I’ll know where you stand. And again, if you’re a Barrett supporter, why aren’t YOU against the bill like he is?


          • Look, I actually agree with what Michael said.

            Since VAT countries charge us a tariff to sell our goods there (while imports from VAT countries into the US aren’t charged those same taxes), and exports from VAT counties get rebates of VAT taxes just like domestic goods in those countries get, I think it’s not a bad idea to recoup some of those expenses. Now, would the fact that our goods will become “more expensive” to other countries hurt the amount of goods exported from the US (and jobs)? What would the tariff rate be? What determines if it’s raised or lowered? If we deal with all 29 countries currently with a VAT, with rates ranging from 9% to 25%, do we set our rates equal to the specific countries involved? That would make trade “fair”, which I’m all for. Surely, though, taxes that high would negatively affect our exports, but then again, so is getting screwed by these other countries at the border.

            How a VAT works with imports and exports is very much like the Barrett and Wilson-backed bill (other countries lower their tariffs on our exports, while we raise the tariffs on imports from them). However, a VAT works with domestic goods, too, and the proposed bill doesn’t, though it does put us on a slippery slope (which may have been what Barrett realized).

            But I still ask, why has this post devolved from a candidate for governor backing out of a bill once he’s challenged, to how stupid Haley and the Spy are because they said he supported a VAT (when the Spy merely mentioned a link to other VAT-ish issues that Barrett’s been linked to) when the way a VAT works regarding trade (not domestic goods) is, in fact, exactly like the proposed bill? Whether it’s good or bad isn’t the issue (I personally see it both ways). A candidate who either changes his mind when challenged instead of fighting back with facts (like most of you did), or who didn’t understand what he was supporting is the issue, and that’s my bigger concern.

            Had he simply said “Sorry, Ms. Haley, but my proposal simply levels the playing field with imports and exports and has no direct effect on domestic goods sold OR the value-added stages domestically with goods to be exported, and is actually NOT a VAT” I would have no problem with anything he said. I might even be on his side. But by backing out, he either doesn’t want to have his name anywhere near anything that even slightly resembles any aspect of a VAT (political posturing), or he won’t stand up for what he believes (even if he may actually be right). Either way, what DOES he believe?

            That’s what bothers me.



    Not for saying its a bad bill but for being WRONG about what the bill does. Are you going to APOLOGIZE?


  6. But Joe Wilson supports it!!!

    In other words, we pick our enemies on the opening du jour.

    Everybody loves Joe Wilson. He & Barrett support the same bill that Haley is hoping will help her. So we go after Barrett, but not after Joe.


  7. This may be illuminating:

    COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – State Rep. Nikki Haley said during a recent South Carolina gubernatorial debate that opponent U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett had co-sponsored legislation to impose a European-style, value-added tax. Haley also said she signed a pledge to not increase taxes.

    The facts don’t back up Haley’s tax criticism of Barrett on Monday night, nor is there proof she signed a tax pledge before the debate.


    HALEY: “It is actions that mean everything. And with all due respect, Congressman Barrett co-sponsored the value-added tax in Washington that’s like a national, European-style sales tax that would turn around. It’s what Obama’s talking about for dealing with health care.”

    Haley campaign manager Tim Pearson backed up the claim later with a link to a story in a Washington political publication that noted Republican support for the “Border Tax Equity Act” sponsored by U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J.


    The publication later wrote a second story clarifying what Pascrell’s bill did and corrected the initial story.

    “The legislation in no way imposes or seeks to impose a value-added tax,” Pascrell told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

    Pascrell’s bill first calls for negotiation with the World Trade Organization with countries that give their manufacturers tax breaks, including on value-added taxes, when they export to other countries. If the negotiations fail, he wants to impose a fee on imports from foreign manufacturers. Pascrell said the fee, regarded by others as a tariff, would be used to offset taxes other nation taxes levied on U.S. manufacturers’ goods.

    While it is not a value-added tax, Barrett, U.S. Reps. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., and Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., issued a joint statement Tuesday saying they have withdrawn support for the bill. Barrett said he decided there were better ways to deal with the issue.



  8. Stating that Barrett supports a VAT tax because he supports using a Tariff to even the playing field with countries overseas is more than incorrect, it is disingenuous and on its face false. I am dissapointed to see Haley stoop to this kind of deception to try and win a political race. I guess she is no different than the other politicians who will say or do anything to gain or retain power. Yuck, another race that I have to hold my nose on.


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