is was one of the GOP’s strongest opponents to a flat tax. When Steve Forbes was running for president on the idea in 1996, Rudy “disparaged a flat tax in general and Mr. Forbes’s plan in particular,” according to the New York Times. Rudy said a flat tax “would really be a disaster.”
But what’s a disaster between presidential candidates? In exchange for Steve Forbes’ endorsement, Giuliani recently announced he was a big proponent of the flat tax. He said of a federal income tax, “maybe I’d suggest not doing it at all, but if we were going to do it, a flat tax would make a lot of sense.”
Okay, so that’s a flip-flop. Care to reverse your position again, and make it a flip-flop-flip?
[When asked how he could support a flat tax after long opposition, Giuliani said,] “I didn’t favor it, I said something academic… What I said was, and it was not a joke, but it was half-jocular, was if we didn’t have an income tax…what would I favor? First I would favor no tax. That would be my first position. My second position would probably be a flat tax.”
But, he said, the tax “would probably not be feasible.”
I love this attitude. Can you imagine him as president? “Oh, did I say we should bomb Iran? I was kidding. But kidding on the square. I was, like, half kidding. Oh, Ahmadinejad launch an attack on Israel as a response? Crap. You’re kidding, right?”
The problem with Giuliani, and maybe this is a good problem, is that he isn’t comfortable flip-flopping. McCain panders to people he once despised and Romney has reversed his entire playbook on social issues — and both are sticking to their reversals, no matter how shameless or false they appear, and no matter how hard they get hammered for it. Giuliani, on the other hand, seems uncomfortable abandoning positions he has long held, and after he abandons them, he claims them back, or gets hopelessly muddled.
Maybe that’s to his credit.
More on this at Bruce Reed’s space on Slate. Also, Cameron blogged about the flat tax and Giuliani’s relationship to the crooked Bernard Kerik in an earlier post titled “Giuliani Meltdown.”