Forbes wanted a stake; Brownback suggests an axe

Those of us who covered former GOP presidential candidate Steve Forbes during the 1996 and 2000 campaigns can recite one of Forbes’ favorite lines.  As you may recall, the magazine publisher called for a flat tax and when he spoke of the federal tax code, Forbes recited a line that conjured up visions of vampires and Transylvania.  "We should kill it, drive a stake through its heart, bury it and hope it never rises again to terrorize the American people," Forbes said. Often.

Well, there’s a new tax code slayer on the scene.  It’s Kansas Senator/2008 GOP presidential candidate Sam Brownback.  His weapon of choice?  A "dull axe."

Brownback has been suggesting that the federal tax code "be taken out behind the barn and killed with a dull axe."  It’s a visual image that many former Iowa farm-kids (like me) can conjure. 

If you wonder about the "dull" part — let me refer to the movie "Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves" starring Kevin Costner.  When the Sheriff of Nottingham declared that he would cut Robin Hood’s heart out with a spoon, someone then asked: "Why a spoon, cousin?  Why not an axe?" 

"Because it’s DULL, you twit.  It’ll hurt more," the Sheriff of Nottingham replied. 

Which I guess is precisely the "dull" point Brownback is making.  Bring on the hurt, as those professional wrestling stars say.

"There’s this enormous frustration with the tax code," Brownback just told me over the phone.  He called into the Radio Iowa office late this afternoon as he drove to a campaign event in Muscatine. 

"We’ve gotten the rates down. They need to go lower, but there’s more frustration with the code itself than the rates and that’s why I think we really need to go to a different system and I’ve used that line in front of union groups and got a standing ovation.  It is something that there’s enormous frustration with and for these things to be effective and these lines to be any good, it has to resonate with people, where they live and their experiences.  So, yes, I will be using that line," the axe-man Brownback said, laughing.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.