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Forbes pushes SEC rule changes......... flat tax

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01/28/2009 06:47 PM
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Forbes pushes SEC rule changes......... flat tax
Forbes pushes SEC rule changes, flat tax
Sunday, January 25, 2009 Huntsville Times
Steve Forbes wowed 1,300 local business leaders Thursday with a 30-minute talk on the global financial crisis.

He had the crowd clapping and laughing throughout despite the grim and often dry subject matter, and his recommendations on how to quickly revive the economy drew sustained applause.

How impressive was he? One well-known Democrat e-mailed afterward: "He is a Republican that I would promptly and happily vote for, for most any office."
Forbes, 61, was here to address the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce's annual membership meeting. The editor-in-chief of Forbes magazine and two-time GOP presidential candidate is widely recognized as an expert in economics and politics. He's written two books with a third due in June.

Times Business Writer Steve Byers assembled this Q&A from a media session and brief interview with Forbes before his chamber speech and from remarks during the talk. His comments have been edited for space and clarity:

Are you encouraged or discouraged so far by the Obama administration's economic strategy?

If this economy isn't showing some progress soon, they're going to have political troubles, because after a year they own the economy. It won't be sufficient to say, "It's George Bush's fault."

I hope that the pressure of events will have them do some of the things (I recommend), like (eliminating) mark-to-market (accounting). They can do that tomorrow.

My guess is the first half of this year is going to be pretty tough, but the second half is going to be better. Then we'll see whether this administration does things that are helpful to the economy or just stands in the way.

You've long been a proponent of a flat tax. But doesn't tax reform move to the back burner until we fix the overall economy?

A flat tax would throw out the 9-million-word hideous tax code we have. It would allow people to fill out their tax return on a sheet of paper at a low rate with generous exemptions. For example, a family of four would pay no federal income tax on their first $46,000 of income.

I think that would be very attractive, especially at a time like this when you're trying to get the economy revived. In my opinion, if President Obama proposed a flat tax, even if members of his party opposed it, it would make him unbeatable politically.

Where does the Republican Party go from here?
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