Crowd much smaller, but still boisterous, at FairTax rally

WINDER - A week after more than 4,500 people gathered in Gwinnett for a FairTax rally, a significantly smaller rally was held Thursday night in Barrow County.

About 40 supporters came together to voice their views on tax reform and listen to U.S. Rep. John Linder promote his bill, which would get rid of income and other taxes, replacing them with a 23 percent sales tax.

Linder told supporters that it was important for grass-roots efforts across the country to support and push the legislation. He said he was encouraged by the response at the rally last Wednesday at the Gwinnett Convention Center, which caused major traffic jams and turned away at least 2,000 people.

"The fact that so many people turned out last week shows there's an awful lot of people looking to change the world," Linder said.

Syndicated radio talk show host Neal Boortz co-authored a book with Linder last year, "The FairTax Book," that became a nonfiction bestseller and sparked debate about the legislation. Copies of the book were sold at the rally, along with T-shirts opposing the income tax.

Phil Hinson of Americans for FairTax spoke at the rally about the importance of abolishing estate taxes, corporate taxes, income taxes and all others in favor of the flat national retail tax. He touted it as a way of competing in an increasingly global market, simplifying the taxation process and creating more equity among Americans.

"The FairTax will create many more jobs than it destroys, and it will create many more winners than losers," Hinson said.

But opponents of the proposal say it would disproportionately affect lower-income families because they spend a larger percentage of their incomes compared to savings and investments.

Linder countered this idea in his speech by saying the tax would have more of an impact on wealthier Americans because it taxes only what they choose to buy.

"America has never taxed wealth. We tax wages. And wealthy people don't have wages. ... We're going to tax wealth for the first time," Linder said.

FairTax supporters say shifting taxes from income to consumption would encourage Americans to save and invest their money, eventually leading to economic growth.

Jim Watson, a Loganville business owner, started organizing the Winder FairTax rally two weeks ago. He had tried to attend the rally in Duluth last week, but he and his wife turned back after hearing they were turning people away.

One of the advantages of the much smaller Winder rally was that it didn't come with the heinous traffic.

"We tried to keep down the number of people who came to it so it was more personal," Watson said.

The rally was held in a large warehouse owned by Mitch Williams, who started supporting the FairTax proposal after hearing about it on Boortz's show.

"It's just a heck of a lot better than the crummy system we have now. Everyone gets to keep their money," Williams said.