Embracing a mature tax debate?

abbott hockeyTony Abbott might well be the last bloke on earth who could plausibly demand a “mature debate” on tax reform. But that doesn’t deny the crying need for such a debate in Australia.

Nor does the fact that it’s the antithesis of what Abbott did in Opposition mean that Bill Shorten should necessarily emulate Tony’s tactics himself.  What won the last war won’t necessarily win this one.  Abbott didn’t win the 2013 election only because he relentlessly opposed everything Labor tried to do. That tactic worked because Julia Gillard had mortally wounded herself by the manner in which she seized the prime ministership, because that inevitably resulted in ongoing destructive disunity orchestrated by an embittered Kevin Rudd, and because her government consistently exhibited appalling administrative and policy implementation skills despite some excellent policy ideas. Without those self-inflicted wounds, Abbott’s “one trick pony” knee-jerk obstructionism might have failed.

Despite the fact that opinion polls have looked quite respectable for Shorten for some time, Abbott in government isn’t burdened by any of the handicaps that ensured Gillard/Rudd’s doom. Moreover, he now has the additional benefit of wrapping himself in khaki, which John Howard exploited with such great success in 2001 and 2004.

The plain fact is that the general shape of the tax reform package that Abbott appears to have in mind is a sound one, in policy terms at least:

LIFTING the rate of the GST or broadening its base and ­relinquishing responsibility for health and education to the states are some “options” Tony Abbott has floated in private talks with key Senate ­independents.

The Sunday Telegraph can reveal that Mr Abbott also confirmed that any GST ­increases after the next election, which would require the agreement of the states, would also include tax cuts to compensate pensioners, families and low income earners. …

“He mentioned he had to give a major speech and ­floated his idea of broadening the GST and that the money raised would be enough for the states to pay for health and education. There would be a corresponding fall in other taxes,” he said.

I’m not sure whether Abbott is actually talking about raising enough money from GST to allow the Commonwealth to opt out of funding health and education altogether, or whether he just means generating enough additional revenue to replace the extra federal funds that Gillard had promised the states under Gonski and the needs-based hospital funding scheme negotiated earlier.[1. It’s worth emphasising that those extra federal funds for the states from 2016-17 were completely unfunded by Labor. No doubt they thought it was a really clever idea to leave a “time bomb” for a Coalition government. After all, it was evident for a couple of years before the 2013 election that Labor were long odds against winning. So Gillard “back-ended” both the education and health reforms by loading the lion’s share of extra funding into the budget “out-years” from 2016-17. Why not give Abbott the dilemma of deciding either to deliver the very popular health and education reforms, and be forced to impose significant tax increases in order to fund them, or instead refuse to adopt them and be seen as mean, tricky and unfair? Instead, Abbott avoided the trap and outsmarted Labor by promising to deliver only the first four years of Gonski and the hospitals funding package.  That was enough to defuse it as an election issue, and the Coalition’s first Budget quite specifically abandoned both programs from 2016-17 onwards. Labor was playing cynical politics with two incredibly important reforms, so in that respect they got there just deserts.]

If Abbott means only the latter, then in my understanding that only requires finding an additional $12 billion per year from 2016-17. GST raises approximately $5.5 billion for every one percentage point increase in the rate. Thus an increase of 2.5% in the GST rate to 12.5% would comfortably cover the extra funding that Labor promised from 2016-17, although it wouldn’t be enough to fund compensation to social welfare recipients and low income earners to counter the regressive effects of the GST. Nor would it be anywhere near enough to replace the whole of existing federal funding to the states for health and education if instead that is what Abbott is intending. I don’t know what GST rate that would imply, but I suspect it would mean an increase to 15% or thereabouts.

Of course there are numerous other options for raising such revenue. For example, former Labor Minister Craig Emerson suggests that the states could simply levy an increased land tax to find the money to pay for health and education spending increases. He points out that this is a progressive rather than regressive tax and therefore more desirable in equity terms than a GST increase. It is also more efficient in economic terms, helping to ensure that land is put to its “highest and best use”. However, there is no way the Commonwealth could force the states to levy higher land taxes, and one suspects they would be most unlikely to agree to do so.[2. Although, in the context of a tax reform package involving more GST revenue to the states provided by the Commonwealth, the latter could make it a condition of receiving the extra GST revenue that the states increase/introduce an appropriate land tax and abolish stamp duty on property transfers. That would boost productivity by enhancing labour mobility.]

The states … have a well-developed technique of letting the Commonwealth incur the odium of raising tax, then happily spending it while still crying poor and blaming the Feds for their plight.

Abbott seems to have in mind raising the GST rate and then giving the resulting revenue to the states to spend as they see fit (possibly with some being retained to fund compensation to social welfare recipients and low income earners). That might well be consistent with the original spirit of federalism, but whether it is sensible or realistic is another question. [3. Which is very strange, given that Abbott seemed to be anything but a federalist judging by the book “Battlelines” he wrote in his early Opposition years. As this article outlines: “At the time of its publication, Battlelines was notable for offering an unqualified case for central power from the conservative side of politics. Abbott advocated constitutional reform that would give the Commonwealth a free hand to intervene in any area of state responsibility as it saw fit.” It isn’t immediately obvious to me why he has so radically changed his mind. Perhaps he is trying to emulate his hero John Howard, who similarly spent accumulated political capital at the end of his first term in office to achieve the GST in the first place? But Howard had long believed in GST, whereas Abbott is clearly a very recent convert to the virtues of classical federalism.] Australia’s evolved system of “cooperative” (it would be more accurate to call it coercive) federalism has long involved the Commonwealth raising the lion’s share of revenue and then giving it to the states with strings attached by way of tied grants under Constitution section 96. The states in turn have a well-developed technique of letting the Commonwealth incur the odium of raising tax, then happily spending it while still crying poor and blaming the Feds for their plight. There is no reason to expect them to abandon this very successful game merely because they are really finally getting enough money to meet their needs.

That might well be where Bill Shorten and Labor could productively intervene and negotiate to support the necessary increase in GST rate provided that Abbott agrees to reinstate the whole of the needs-based formulae underpinning the Gonski education reforms and the Activity Based Funding system for hospitals, which the Rudd/Gillard government adapted from the successful Case Mix system pioneered by the Kennett Liberal government in Victoria.

Labor would then be seen to be acting responsibly in relation to the budgetary situation while also successfully pursuing the party’s egalitarian aims from Opposition.

In other words, Shorten should offer to support the GST increases that Abbott wants only on condition that Abbott in return agrees to full restoration of Labor’s needs-based education and health reforms. Labor would then be seen to be acting responsibly in relation to the budgetary situation while also successfully pursuing the party’s egalitarian aims from Opposition.

Shorten should also insist as a condition of his party’s agreement that the overall mix of tax and spending reform must achieve a situation whereby it isn’t necessary to impose effective pay cuts on the Australian Defence Force and Commonwealth Public Service.  That would undoubtedly involve agreeing to support re-imposition of inflation indexation of fuel excise, and at least some of the less unfair spending cuts from the May budget that have not yet been passed. In that regard, I quite like the analysis contained in Macroeconomics’ Mid-Year Budget Bulletin (written by former Treasury officer Stephen Anthony) and released today:

There are now around $11 billion in annual budget savings by 2017-18 held up in the Senate. In addition, the Treasurer faces up to $10 billion in unfavourable parameter variations by 2017-18. This is the mining boom unwinding, causing an income slowdown due to the interaction of falling commodity prices and sub-trend real activity, perhaps even exacerbated by the confidence-sapping budget deadlock.  Down are both earnings for businesses and wages growth for households, resulting in a reduced revenue take. Not even bracket creep will help return the Budget to surplus with such low wages growth. Right now it appears a return to budget surplus is unlikely any time soon but at least the fiscal repair job is now well under way after a decade of waiting.

The real problem with the first Hockey Budget is that it is seen as UNFAIR.

The real problem with the first Hockey Budget is that it is seen as UNFAIR. It imposes too much of the adjustment burden up to 2017-18 on the disadvantaged – rather than wealthy Australians who would benefit most from a resurgent economy driven by structural budget repairs. This has allowed a veritable Greek chorus of budget criers – otherwise known as the fiscal girly men – to howl down the best aspects of the document, for instance: (i) reforming age pension indexation; (ii) tightening Family Tax Benefit B eligibility; and (iii) ending of senior health card benefits.[4. Anthony suggests that these measures (including indexing fuel excise) would together raise almost half of the $40 billion annual budget deficit that he predicts will exist by 2017-18 if no Senate deal is done, whether with Labor or the cross benches.] The Treasurer should focus on a few major savings battles that are worth winning and abandon the rest which are political death by 1000 cuts (health copayments, tighter eligibility for unemployed benefits, uni funding etc).[5. That is, Anthony is suggesting that these measures are too politically hard and should be abandoned.] Any savings shortfall can be funded by winding back superannuation concessions.

I don’t see any reason why Shorten and Labor could not agree to all or most of these measures and successfully (and indeed honestly) present them to the public as the sort of mix of responsible economic management and fundamental fairness that Australia desperately needs. If it was presented in the right way, Abbott could be painted as irresponsible and obstructionist if he failed to agree to such a deal.

Of course it isn’t going to happen, but I can always dream.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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rog
rog
7 years ago

I did not understand the need for a Medicare co payment (regressive) when all that was needed was to increase the Medicare levy. The means tested Medicare levy is more fair in that those that can afford to pay do – a system that has worked well in other parts of the world. We do need to tighten up one loophole – the definition of income – those on super pensions are exempt from the levy as their pensions are not taxable whereas self funded retirees are taxable.

Our levy recently went up from 1.5% to 2% – did anybody notice?

derrida derider
derrida derider
7 years ago
Reply to  rog

rog, the Medicare Levy is an abomination unto the Lord in its design (try googling Medicare Levy Transferable Reduction Amount for just a small taste of the byzantine intricacies). It fails miserably against all three canons of a good tax (fair, economically efficient and simple to administer). The major root cause is that it still tries to honour Bob Hawke’s 1983 election promise that no-one who got free medical care before Medicare (pensioner couples with no supplementary income, military personnel, blind but not other disabled people, poorer single income couples with children, etc) would pay the Medicare Levy.

That never mattered much while the rate was 1%. At 2% it’s just beginning to be a problem, but at rates sufficient to actually fund Medicare (say, about 10%) it would be a disaster. If you want the Medicare Levy to fund Medicare properly then you would have to totally redesign it.

Given the highly immature debate that accompanies any tax reform, good or bad (to get back to the OP topic), that is just not going to happen.

rog
rog
7 years ago
Reply to  Ken Parish

Therein lies the problem, there is no evidence that patients overly use medical services and there is no evidence that a co payment would send a “price signal” to only those who are thought to improperly use medical services. Its all conjecture therefore bad policy.

rog
rog
7 years ago
Reply to  rog

Study of the co payment from Sydney University

Hildy
Hildy
7 years ago
Reply to  rog

I know that the plural of anecdote is not data, but I also know that among my patients, there are many who inappropriately overly use medical services.

I don’t know if a copayment would make them stop, or would stop others from seeking help when necessary.

Alan
Alan
7 years ago

Some years ago the German constitutional court held that vertical fiscal imbalance had reached a level that violated the constitution. They ordered the federation and the states to establish a new system that (1) ensured adequate resources to the states and (2) was excessively evidence-based. Negotiating the system took some years but eventually it was a greed by the federation and the states.

I know there is no equivalent rule in the Australian constitution. I submit one way to achieve a mature debate on fiscal imbalance is for the major parties to present a bipartisan referendum incorporating such a rule into the constitution.

The GST was supposed to be a lasting solution to the problem of the states’ inadequate resources. It has proved not to be. I submit a permanent solution is not which tax or function to move where, but a constitutional amendment that forces the commonwealth and the states to establish a system that ends vertical imbalance.

Alan
Alan
7 years ago
Reply to  Ken Parish

the twin problems with something so benign sounding as a ‘national co-ordinating role’ is that it is as transparent as a brick wall and the commonwealth has an unsurprising tendency to assume that it is always best-placed to make every decision.

You will be familiar with the bizarre and Byzantine process of getting a new university course approved under the Dawkins reforms, and that is by no means the only or worst example. The insulation program failure under Rudd can be directly assigned to sphere of government with more money than sense assuming that there was no need for policy or delivery input from the sates.

Moreover the is actually an ethical question. The commonwealth, ever pursuing management at the cost of reform, is trying god evolve environmental approvals to the states.

That decision was handed down from n high by COAG which does not even publish its agenda, let alone actual proposals, in a dance. The COAG ukase was then conveniently translated into legislation on the basis that not one comma could be changed in the bills because it had been agreed by all 9 governments. It’s noteworthy both the Gillard and Abbot governments are deeply enthusiastic for this happy accord to be enacted in the name of efficiency.

I say that’s nonsense, efficiency is achieved by transparency, openness and accountability.

I suppose it is just possible that all virtue, knowledge and wisdom in Australia resides inside the skulls of the 9 first ministers, but you will forgive me for expressing a mild degree of both disquiet and doubt.

Alan
Alan
7 years ago
Reply to  Ken Parish

Governments are not private corporations. MOUs are not instruments of governments. Freely accepting two large and total failures in federal polcy oversight and then advocating further federal policy oversight, without any mechanism for improving said oversight beyond reciting a little managerialese, just cannot be a solution.

The rest of the planet accepts principles like accountability, transparency, subsidiarity. Why is Australia the sole sample of that happy nation where the centre can rule supreme free of any fear that they will mess up totally like they did with the Dawkins controls, the insulation program, the devolvement of environment approvals.

Tyler
Tyler
7 years ago

Why is the proposed reform to the Pension meant to be meekly accepted as a positive change? It has never seemed clear to me that deliberately lowering the living standard of pensioners was either necessary or reasonable (and i’m probably 60 years away from claiming a pension)

Tyler
Tyler
7 years ago
Reply to  Ken Parish

Fair enough, there’s certainly scope for tax reform which would be more easily achieved by a liberal government (they’ll avoid a hysterical reaction from news ltd for a start) but given the tendencies they’ve displayed in the budget, on the RET etc it’s difficult to imagine a liberal tax reform package that wouldn’t be hideously inequitable in practice.

I am still Not Trampis
I am still Not Trampis
7 years ago
Reply to  Tyler

Maybe maybe not,

you could utilise Land taxes better. Inheritance taxes,
gifts and estate duty???

Paul Montgomery
Paul Montgomery
7 years ago
Reply to  Tyler

You know as well as I do that that would not happen these days, Homer.

David Walker
David Walker
7 years ago
Reply to  Tyler

Tyler, the essential argument for raising the pension age is this:

In a world where adult life expectancies have been rising and the pension age has not, retaining the status quo simply gives pensioners an increasingly high standard of living at the expense of everyone else. The increase in male life expectancy at 65 has been absolutely massive over the past 40 years. The burden on those who are earning an income becomes heavier with rises in the number of old-age pensioners they are each supporting.

This is an even bigger problem in places like Australia where people are staying longer in pre-work education.

I have some sympathy for Ken’s idea about indexing pensions to AWE. But there is a logically similar argument for indexing the pension age to the average life expectancy.

Bear in mind that the Rudd Government raised the pension age in the 2009 budget and no-one really objected much, to my very great surprise.

Tyler
Tyler
7 years ago
Reply to  David Walker

My point specifically addressed the changes to indexation, increasing the age is far easier to justify

David Walker
David Walker
7 years ago
Reply to  Tyler

Ah. Apologies for misunderstanding.

I am still Not Trampis
I am still Not Trampis
7 years ago
Reply to  David Walker

M0nty,

I am not talking about indirect taxes only direct taxes.

If the tax is 10% it is 10% on any income whether it is $15lk or $150 k.

Paul Montgomery
Paul Montgomery
7 years ago

If you lower the income tax to a flat whatever percent, you have to make up the shortfall in revenue somehow. That revenue will be made up largely from regressive taxes. Thus, instituting a flat tax in 2014 is a regressive outcome, regardless of the inherent features of flat taxes.

Unless you’re abandoning the welfare state altogether, which is no doubt the dream of those calling for a flat tax.

Hildy
Hildy
7 years ago
Reply to  Tyler

It’s not clear that indexing to CPI rather than average wages lowers living standards in an absolute sense. It may in a relative sense.

Anyhow, Labor has no legs to stand on, having commissioned the Henry Tax Review and promptly ignoring it.

Tax ideas I would like to consider:

– Basic income + flat income tax
– Georgist land tax
– Increase in GST to pay for health care

(I’m attracted to the idea that all tax rates should be flat, with an increase in the basic income to compensate.)

David Walker
David Walker(@d-w-griffiths)
7 years ago
Reply to  Hildy

Hildy, genuine question: why are you attracted to the idea that all tax rates should be flat.

Clarifying additional question: by “flat”, do you mean “with no threshhold”?

I am still Not Trampis
I am still Not Trampis
7 years ago
Reply to  David Walker

one attractive thing is no tax avoidance as there are no deductions.

Paul Montgomery
Paul Montgomery
7 years ago
Reply to  David Walker

Flat tax systems are attractive to flat minds.

I am still Not Trampis
I am still Not Trampis
7 years ago
Reply to  David Walker

m0nty is wrong. Flat t

I am still Not Trampis
I am still Not Trampis
7 years ago
Reply to  David Walker

m0nty is wrong. Flat tax systems are okay. I prefer linear taxes as with a thresh hold they become progressive..
A proportional tax is not unfair as all paeople pay the same.
It is only applicable to income tax.

Paul Montgomery
Paul Montgomery
7 years ago
Reply to  David Walker

A true flat tax is horribly regressive. You can add progressive corollaries on it, but it’s putting lipstick on a pig. In the age of the long tail (implying a short rump), flat taxes are an unaffordable anachronism that can only exacerbate inequality.

I am still Not Trampis
I am still Not Trampis
7 years ago
Reply to  David Walker

M0nty,
A flat tax on income tax cannot be regressive.
every person pays the same proportion.

Paul Montgomery
Paul Montgomery
7 years ago
Reply to  David Walker

Homer, the effect would be regressive in practice because to pay for the state, other taxes would have to be increased, many of which are regressive. Specifically in the modern era, consumption taxes are the preferred revenue raiser of choice, which are naturally regressive.

Hildy
Hildy
7 years ago
Reply to  David Walker

by flat, I mean that everybody’s marginal rate is the same.

there are three meanings of progressive, for example:
1. that the marginal rate is monotonically non-decreasing
2. that the overall tax take as a proportion of whatever you are taxing increases as whatever you are taxing increases
3. that the overall tax take as a proportion of some measure of ‘ability to pay’ increases as ‘ability to pay’ increases.

Some truisms:
1. A single marginal rate of tax is progressive under definition (1), irregardless of whether a tax free threshold exists.
2. A single marginal rate of tax with a tax free threshold is progressive under definition (2).
3. A non-refundable tax credit is equivalent to a tax free threshold when there is a single marginal rate of tax.
4. A refundable tax credit is equivalent to a non-refundable tax credit for those paying more tax than the credit, but is more beneficial to those paying less than the credit.
5. A refundable tax credit which is issued universally is equivalent to a basic income.

The conclusions to draw from this are:
1. A universal basic income and a flat tax rate is as good, for all taxpayers, as a flat tax rate with a tax free threshold.
2. A universal basic income and a flat tax rate are progressive by definitions (1) and (2). Definition (3) depends on your metric of ‘ability to pay’.

The next question is, why a flat rate? To me, flat rates reduce the market distorting features of taxes:

1. The after-tax value of a particular income producing activity is the same for all potential participants. A job which pays $20/hr is worth $11/hr after tax to someone in the top bracket, and $20/hr to someone in the bottom, so their decisions to work an extra hour are altered by the different after tax pay.

2. The value of tax deductions is the same for all participants. The clearest example of this is negative gearing: a 10,000 pa loss on an investment property is worth a $4500 reduction in tax to someone in the top bracket, and only $3900 to someone in the bracket below. Hence the buyer in the top tax bracket can afford to pay more for the property because they get a greater tax deduction, as well as a greater tax concession on the CGT.

3. Income sharing within families is no longer an issue – if you share income with your spouse or children, they pay the same amount of tax on that shared income as you would have. Hence structuring of family trusts and companies is no longer a lucrative source of tax avoidance.

3a. Income averaging between years no longer becomes necessary or viable.

The above arguments apply for all forms of tax, individually. Taking the system as a whole, however, the balance of revenue between different takes is not straightforward to decide, and I’m going to admit that the next bit is a lot more influenced by my political views than the above. [Disclaimer: I am a youngish middle class professional from a very poor background – hence I am asset poor with reasonable income.]

1. Wealth (assets) more properly affects ‘ability to pay’ than income. It’s fairly simple to convert wealth to income – purchase an annuity or similar. It is much harder to convert income to wealth in a durable fashion because of the vicissitudes of life.

2. Income taxes stop poor people from becoming rich, and do very little to the already wealthy (especially with the preferential CGT treatment).

3. Consumption taxes are somewhat better than income taxes because they capture the consumption of previously accumulated wealth, as well as current income. However, the equity problems lead to reducing the tax base, which complicates the tax. A GST credit as part of the basic income would go toward helping with this.

4. Wealth taxes are difficult to account for, especially given that a lot of wealth is created and evaporates on the stockmarkets daily.

However, the easiest wealth taxes to account for are taxes on economic rents:
1. Ground rent (or land tax)
2. Mineral rents / royalties
3. Monopoly rents on government granted monopolies – ie intellectual property

Rent taxes are economically efficient, non-distorting, easy to capture, and if coupled with a basic income to create progressiveness, quite progressive.

Land taxes, in particular, would discourage the misuse of valuable land, especially in Sydney.

john Walker
john Walker(@johnrwalker)
7 years ago
Reply to  Hildy

Council rates are an example of a flat tax with no threshold. Apart from the inequity aspect flat taxes create another problem, it is not easy to increase them- exactly because the poor pay the same amount as the rich.

derrida derider
derrida derider
7 years ago

[Gillard’s] government consistently exhibited appalling administrative and policy implementation skills despite some excellent policy ideas

OT, but this is only accurate for the RUDD government . It’s exactly what you expect with a PM who will neither listen nor delegate and who treats like s**t everyone he expects to carry out his (yes, often good) ideas.

Its actually the reverse of the truth for the Gillard government. That one was politically crippled, knew it, and was hence ultra-cautious and unimaginative in policy. But just for that reason it was happy – relieved even – to rely on a competent public service for administration. Sir Humphrey ruled under Gillard.

I am still Not Trampis
I am still Not Trampis
7 years ago

Just adopt the Henry report recommendations.
You would have to address vertical fiscal imbalance otherwise it won’t work.
Get rid of those small inefficient state taxes.
States can always simply make their payroll taxes more pure and raise them and it has the same effect as raising the GST for a start.

David Walker
David Walker
7 years ago

From an ALP perspective, Ken’s deal seems a very smart one to make. It lets the ALP discard its always-oppose-a-GST straitjacket, now a quarter of a century old, and get a win on education reform. (The co-payment seems to me neither obviously good nor obviously bad policy.) I would be tempted to put the carbon tax back on the table as part of the process, if only to test Abbott’s commitment to “mature debate”.

Sophisticated policy debate has not been this government’s strong suit. (I don’t mean that in a completely derogatory way, although it’s a major failing. They’ve done some of the obvious things, like ending car industry protection, and a government that can do the obvious things can be worth having, at least for a short time.) So if Abbott wants to fight on the field of “mature tax debate”, there’s a good case that the ALP should take him up on the offer right away.

And if the government did oversee a mature tax debate, that would be a great outcome for the country. We can all dream …

Paul Montgomery
Paul Montgomery
7 years ago

Of course it isn’t going to happen, but I can always dream.

Fair enough Ken, and well argued. Nevertheless, as you reference, the Libs won’t agree to funding Labor policy that is new enough to sabotage, and Labor loves scoring opportunist points by opposing tax from opposition too much for a true Grand Bargain to be possible.

Nothing new will happen this term on this or nearly any other substantial issue at a federal level. Abbott has no mandate for anything because he never stood for anything apart from PPL and similar Tory nudges, various walkbacks of reforms, and his central I’m Not Them policy. A mandate will have to wait until the next election.

We are in an interregnum in the Western world. We bide our time for 2016 when Abbott may finally discover a reason (if not Reason), when the inevitable juggernaut of Hillary will clear out the GOP recalcitrants holding back the recovery, and maybe when Germany will belatedly release its economic jackboot from the face of the Eurozone. In the meantime, it’s the New Gilded Age.

Patrick
Patrick
7 years ago

You think a Hilary win is inevitable??? Let me tell you, I’ll be your friend in two year’s time when you have collected the millions you will win betting on that inevitability.

Until then I’ll give a healthily low weight to anything you say!

Paul Montgomery
Paul Montgomery
7 years ago
Reply to  Patrick

Clinton is already ahead by nine points or more on every GOP challenger, and the way the electoral college works these days, the Democrats win the presidency even if they lose the popular vote by a point or two (the “gerrymander” is four points for the GOP in the House). And have you seen the Republican list of candidates? Hillary is already odds-on, and will only get shorter.

Patrick
Patrick
7 years ago

How’s she tracking against the democrats?

Paul Montgomery
Paul Montgomery
7 years ago

She will smash the primary Patrick, leading everyone else by 50 points or more. These things are easy to find out. What’s your point, if you still have one?

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
Nicholas Gruen(@nicholas-gruen)
7 years ago

The problem with your reasoning Ken, IMO, is that all the incentives our infotainment media culture (and perhaps just the psyche of the electorate without the media hype) impose on Oppositions is not to be reasonable and help arrive at a compromise position. That’s something the Republicans understand in the US and that Tony Abbott understood and Malcolm Turnbull did not. If Malcolm had helped the ALP pass carbon pricing, I doubt he’d have got much credit for it. The media would have told us what a masterful PM we had in Rudd.

So if Shorten pursued this course, Abbott would get through ‘historic’ tax reform and then Shorten couldn’t run round being Chicken Little – which was the only way that Paul Keating and Tony Abbott persuaded the electorate to install them as PM.

john Walker
john Walker(@johnrwalker)
7 years ago

re a fixed percentage of income tax :
Would a fixed tax of about 20%? , with no deductions actually deliver less net income for government?