Yes, Carly Fiorina’s three page tax code exists…kinda

Carly Fiorina has been by all accounts an above-average performer in the Republican primary debates, even if she’s logged her above-average performances by being a lying liar whose answers bear little reference to reality. And not just with respect to Planned Parenthood.

When asked in the fourth debate how she would respond to the hard numbers showing that job creation under Democratic Presidents Clinton and Obama has positively dwarfed job creation under George W. Bush, she responded by saying that “problems have gotten much worse under Democrats.” When asked about Obamacare, she said she would repeal it because “We need to try the one thing in health insurance we’ve never tried…the free market,” which is as Rolling Stone’s Jeb Lund wrote, “essentially the only constant thing that has determined how health care has been obtained and administered in the post-feudal era.” And for some amazing reason, the line of hers from the debate that drew the most thorough fact check was her claim that when she met Vladmir Putin, she met him “not in a green room for a show, but in a private meeting,” unlike Donald Trump. As it turns out, she did meet Vladmir Putin in a green room, albeit not for a show.

But one of the lines that’s gotten less scrutiny, and perhaps should get more, is her insistence that the tax code should be three pages long. She’s fond of saying it’s ridiculous that the tax code is 73,000 pages long — a figure that isn’t remotely close to accurate — and that it can and should be shortened to three pages. “And yes,” she insisted on Tuesday night, “that plan exists.”

But the three page tax code that “exists,” and which Fiorina’s campaign posted to Facebook during the debate, wasn’t exactly Fiorina’s tax plan. It was the Hoover Institute’s Hall-Rabushka tax code. As Breitbart pointed out, “Fiorina presented the 3-page Hall-Rabushka tax plan from the Hoover Institution as a model, although it’s not clear this is The Fiorina Plan in all of its details, or if she intends to present a modified version as her final proposal.”

Carly Fiorina, screenshot via Des Moines Register

Carly Fiorina, screenshot via Des Moines Register

Our tax code is 73,000 pages. The weight and complexity of it are crushing everyday Americans, 59 percent of whom now…

Posted by Carly Fiorina on Tuesday, November 10, 2015

This is especially confusing given that Congressman Burgess hasn’t put forward a three page tax code. He has voted in favor of the Tax Code Termination Act, which would have thrown out all but a few sections of the current code and called on Congress to restart the taxation process from scratch. And he has called for legislation that would make the tax code short enough that individuals and businesses could file on a one page tax form. Although I suppose one could use elements from Burgess’s plan to update the Hall-Rabushka plan, thereby reconciling her inclusion of both in her post.

One would hope that Fiorina eventually puts a modified proposal together, because the Hall-Rabushka plan was written in 1995, and includes 1995 numbers for the personal allowances and exemptions it includes to go along with its 19 percent flat tax. One would hope that she would at least update her plan for inflation using 2015 dollars.

Either way, the Hall-Rabushka plan, if implemented, would be a disaster for the same reasons that every other flat tax plan would be a disaster: It would cut deductions that Americans actually like and rely on, such as the home interest deduction, while raising taxes for low-income Americans and lowering them for the rich.

All this is to say that, yes, a three page tax code exists, but it isn’t Carly Fiorina’s three page tax code. At least not yet. She’s still got a lot of questions to answer about how she plans to turn a white paper from a think tank in 1995 into actual public policy.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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16 Responses to “Yes, Carly Fiorina’s three page tax code exists…kinda”

  1. Moderator3 says:

    We get it. you are a Fiorina apologist. Change your subject here or move on.

  2. Bill says:

    Jon, your article is an interesting slight of hand (or mouth in your case). By calling her a “lying lier” in your first sentence kind of blatantly declared your bias and killed your credibility to write a quality article. While Carly’s statement was correct about the “green room” you forced yourself to agree only because it wasn’t for a show as if it really wasn’t true. So who is the one making the truth disappear?

  3. Bill says:

    Read about Good360 (top 10 charities in America), One Women Initiative, Opportunity International, and Fiorina Foundation (Carly Fiorina wiki) Oh and by the way, she doesn’t take an income from any of them, unlike others in the news.

  4. Bill says:

    That is what the IRS, accountants and tax attorneys want you to believe. Who says that it can’t be done? Only those who benefit from it not happening. Why can’t it be done?

  5. Bill says:

    HP is doing very well right now, bigger and better than ever. Meg Whitman current CEO of HP has confirmed that the merger was a big success. It is not ruined.

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  7. 2karmanot says:

    Old liver lips Fiorina certainly knows about the Free Market. She ruined two world class corporations and walked away with 20 million FREE dollars.

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  9. The_Fixer says:

    People like Fiorina and every other person participating in the Republican Presidential candidate debate dispense bullshit like this because they know their target audience is not going to try verifying it. These people are happy to just believe this crap simply because it reinforces their paranoia and biases.

    Oh, it’s wonderful that some people are checking into some of the stuff that they say. However, we need more of it, and to have it done by the mainstream media. It’s disgusting that they are missing in action when it comes to exposing bullshit artists like Fiorina, Trump and Carson.

  10. Bogus says:

    It’s 73,000 pages to cover all the corporate loopholes that she printed out with her HP copy machine. She printed about that many pink slips for her employees.

  11. You’ll notice that there is no section for “Capital Gains” or “Inheritance/Gift” in those three pages…

  12. JaneE says:

    I used to have a two step tax form on my wall. Step one was a question – “How much did you make?”
    Step two said “Send it in.” 1950’s humor.

  13. Hue-Man says:

    More hypocrisy: tech companies like HP routinely force customers to accept hundreds of pages of “Terms and Conditions”. Only a simpleton would believe that a 3 page Tax Code could be applied to a $17 TRILLION economy.

  14. mf_roe says:

    In the TEN years since HP’s Board fired her ass just what has she run other than her lying mouth.

  15. Indigo says:

    When did she ever research the facts when a throw-away remark will do?

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