"How is the FairTax coming along, and do you think it has a chance of passing?"
Last week, I visited two Rotaries, a Kiwanis Club and a community improvement district meeting, and at each this question was posed. This is not an uncommon question, and it never comes as a surprise, except when the question is asked by a 16- or 17-year-old who should be less worried about the tax code and more worried about whether mom and dad will let them use the car on Friday night.
In the last month, I have participated in student town hall meetings in various schools across the district. Again, in each visit, that question has been posed. The students discussed detailed aspects of the bill and asked truly thoughtful questions about its implementation.
In the past, I have answered this question the same way every time. That is not to say that I have a cookie cutter answer; it is simply that the facts are unchanging.
There are certain market forces that make moving from the current income tax paradigm to a consumption tax paradigm inevitable. In our increasingly global economy, we cannot compete when there is, on average, a 22 percent embedded tax cost in every item produced in the United States. Don't blame Chrysler for locating in Germany; blame your government and the tax code for forcing Chrysler out.
A host of other elements are also leading toward this move. For one, Social Security and Medicare are failing programs; the FairTax, by changing the funding mechanism, will save them both without changing the benefits of either program. Moreover, our markets have lost trillions of dollars to overseas banking institutions. These dollars want to be in our markets, contributing to our economy, but they will not return until we eliminate the oppressive tax burden.
While I usually answer the question with the facts above, on an early Friday morning recently I answered this important question differently. I told the high school senior, "Of course it will pass, because you will make it happen," and that is truly the answer.
There is a whole generation of young people who have been quietly watching the direction in which we are taking this country. They see big business bailouts, entitlement abuses and their opportunities to compete for success withering away. Young people today are aware of the decisions being made and understand the direction it will surely take us. They're angry, and I don't blame them.
It was clear to me in my many visits that this next generation of voters is looking for answers, not just for our economic woes or the global warming hype, but rather for the more fundamental question of how to undo the massive government takeover of their future. I am proud that an overwhelming number of young people consider the FairTax one of those solutions.
More than that, I am truly inspired by their tenacity, and I am excited about the change that they can bring to the future of this nation. Ronald Reagan is often quoted as saying, "Freedom is never more than one generation from being extinct." Those words have never rung more true than they do today, and I am counting on the next generation to restore the freedoms that this one has squandered.
Rep. John Linder, R-Duluth, has served in the House of Representatives since 1992.