Gingrich and Dole on Flat Tax "Nonsense"

Yesterday, [House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.] said some of [Malcolm S. "Steve"] Forbes's flat tax plan was "nonsense."

Appearing in Washington before the American Association of Retired Persons, Gingrich said he favored a less complicated, "flatter" tax system, but said the Forbes proposal was winning support largely because he has spent millions of dollars on television commercials promoting it. "I don't agree with parts of the Forbes proposal," Gingrich said. "He has a couple of ideas I don't think will ever happen."

Campaigning in New Hampshire, Senate Majority Leader Robert J. Dole (Kan.) sounded like he and Gingrich were reading off the same set of talking points. At a Portsmouth Rotary Club luncheon, Dole reiterated that he was for a "flatter, fairer, simpler tax," but said he would not support a proposal like Forbes's that would take away deductions for charitable contributions or mortgage interest.

"And we've got to be very, very careful, . . ." Dole said. . . . "[I]f Congress sees $180 billion, $200 billion [in projected deficit increases], it's not going to happen. . . . You'd think with experience somebody would know you ought to see how the American people react to it, bring in the experts and then see what happens." . . .

Gingrich was particularly dismissive of the part of the Forbes plan that exempts interest and other unearned income from taxation while taxing wages and salaries at 17 percent. "That's nonsense," Gingrich said. "That's not going to happen."

Forbes . . . campaign manager, William Dal Col, rejected Gingrich's criticism. "The speaker should talk to the [House] majority leader, who can explain the flat tax plan to him so that he understands the reason for not taxing interest is so that middle-class Americans can save for retirement, education, a home or whatever . . . ."

The House majority leader, . . . Rep. Richard K. Armey (R-Tex.), whose flat tax plan served as the model for Forbes, came to [New Hampshire] to defend the plan against attacks that it would raise taxes for average Americans.

--The Washington Post, February 9, 1996, p. A6

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