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:”
U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett has withdrawn his support for a controversial trade bill a day after a gubernatorial rival claimed the bill could create a national sales tax.
Barrett and U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson were both co-sponsors of the Border Tax Equity Act of 2009, H.R. 2927, which seeks to get foreign countries to lower their tariffs on U.S. exports. But part of the proposal, critics said, included raising taxes or tariffs on those countries’ imports to the U.S. In particular, critics worried the bill could create a value-added tax, or VAT, which is similar to a national sales tax and common in Europe.
At a debate Monday, Nikki Haley criticized Barrett’s support of the legislation and asked him to withdraw his support on Tuesday. Barrett initially defended the bill, but he and Wilson changed their minds Tuesday afternoon.
The bill “appeared to be one such solution to protect American jobs by ensuring American manufacturers received rebates to neutralize the discriminatory effects they face by border taxes,” Barrett and Wilson said in a joint statement with Georgia U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland. “While the main intent of the bill is to protect American jobs, we have withdrawn our support after further examination revealed the legislation could be at odds with our conservative principles.”
Washington, D.C.-based Americans for Tax Reform said they do not consider the bill a VAT, spokesman John Kartch said by e-mail, and that the bill does not violate the group’s famed Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which forbids signers from voting to raise income or payroll taxes. But the group opposes the bill and considers it a tax increase, Kartch wrote, if it is imposed only on goods from countries that already tax U.S. exports. [emphasis added]
Clearly, there are semantical differences on whether or not the Border Tax Equity Act of 2009 was imposing a value added tax or, rather, opened the door for one. What remains of this story, however, is that Barrett changed his voice and his vote to suit his political ambitions.
How is it that H.R. 2927 is, only now, “at odds” with Barrett’s conservative principles? He favored almost identical legislation in 2007 (H.R. 2600), but, of course, he wasn’t running for governor.
You have to give credit to Nikki Haley. Once again, she shows the citizens of South Carolina what good government can be when the lights are on and politicians are held responsible.