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...maybe you can explain to me how a discussion of moving from our present system to the Fair Tax using different spending numbers clarifies the discussion.

That's your straw man; you defend it. I've said two things in this thread: 1) that a tax reform, of necessity (as opposed to from political reality), needs to be revenue neutral is a false premise, and 2) that spending and taxing are too far interrelated to be discussed usefully apart from each other.

In my magic-wand world the conversation would begin with a debate about what the government is going to do and how much it will cost. Once that number is nailed down you move on to deciding how to raise the money.

Here we generally agree. I also suggest that the first clause of Article I, Section 8 of our Constitution opens the conversation, first by discussing taxes first and then by enumerating for what they may be raised, and that on what those taxes might be spent is first identified in that first clause and then further limited by the rest of the enumerated powers. Related to this are Supreme Court erroneous expansions of the things on which our money might be spent.

Eric Hines
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