Video: Reid says taxes “voluntary”

posted at 10:15 am on July 26, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Via McQ, we present a mind-bender of an interview of Harry Reid by Jan Helfeld.  It appears to be a few years old, but it’s worth a flashback only to see Reid get outboxed in almost every way possible by Helfeld on a simple point: taxes are extracted from taxpayers by threat of force.  Helfeld objects to redistributionism, but instead of answering that point, Reid tries to argue that taxes are voluntary:

Reid reveals himself to be a clueless fool in the course of less than five minutes. He argues that European systems use force by withholding all of their income taxes through the employer … which the US does as well. Reid senses defeat on this point, albeit belatedly, and then tries to argue that deductions make the system voluntary.  Helfeld asks him several times what treatment Americans can expect if they start treating their tax obligations as voluntary, and Reid tries to insist that it doesn’t necessarily lead to prison — the government could just fine the hell out of them.  First.

Here’s the right answer, of course:

American laws get promulgated by representative democracy and enforced by freely-elected executives.  All law enforcement comes with the threat of force, obviously; laws against murder, theft, fraud, and so on get enforced by the same threat of force as tax evasion, which is the force run by freely-elected government.  Tax policy can be changed through elections.  To speak of tax law as somehow separate from all other law is a rhetorical diversion.  

Feel free to use that any time, Harry, since it’s obvious you can’t argue your own way out of a paper bag.  The saddest part of this is that the man who runs half of Congress couldn’t think of this himself.


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Three words for Harry Reid: “Indianapolis Baptist Temple.” Google it!

Damn, I sure want to throw a whole stack of china at this bumbling idiot!

newton on July 26, 2008 at 10:19 AM

Perhaps he was distracted and thinking of the legal implications of his shady land deals in Nevada.

Bishop on July 26, 2008 at 10:21 AM

Okay, Harry. Strike down all criminal law against non-payers of income tax, and you’ll be absolutely right. Let us know the minute you get that done.

MadisonConservative on July 26, 2008 at 10:22 AM

If you just play their own works on a ad, it will be regarded as an attack ad by the left. Doesn’t this mean they condemn themselves?

KW64 on July 26, 2008 at 10:25 AM

As Reid exited the interview, he bent over, mooned the camera, and shouted “OJ WAS INNOCENT!!!

GoodBoy on July 26, 2008 at 10:26 AM

I meant “words” not works.

KW64 on July 26, 2008 at 10:26 AM

Hey…I just heard.
The speed limit is voluntary too.
Apparently so are immigration laws as well.

(sigh)

NeoKong on July 26, 2008 at 10:28 AM

Yet since 1986 there’s enough people in Nevada that keep electing this moron to the Senate.

lowandslow on July 26, 2008 at 10:30 AM

newton on July 26, 2008 at 10:19 AM

That’s the church Wesley Snipes belongs too, right?

Dead Hand Control on July 26, 2008 at 10:34 AM

Of course taxes are voluntary. If you don’t pay them you volunteer to go to jail.

TooTall on July 26, 2008 at 10:34 AM

Harry Reid is so yesteryear, on everything.

Nevada, what the heck is wrong with you?

Entelechy on July 26, 2008 at 10:34 AM

What is law?

There are only three fundimental laws.
These are natural laws
1. You can’t murder
2. You can’t assault.
3. You can’t steal.

Beyond that, all rules are bullsh/t.

As for income tax, watch this, you decide:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1656880303867390173&q=America:+from+Freedom+to+Fascism&ei=KyyJSLK7F47QwgPwiqHFCQ&hl=en

TheSitRep on July 26, 2008 at 10:38 AM

Our tax system also charges you if you don’t have the proper amount withheld. If I can afford to pay my $30,000 tax bill on april 15 and NOT have any of that withheld throughout the year… there is a penalty for not having the taxes withheld!

originalpechanga on July 26, 2008 at 10:42 AM

Nothing is wrong with the people of Nevada. Everything is wrong with the Senatorial (and House) seniority laws, which invest in this smarmy suck-up the power to direct the activities of the Senate, to hold at abeyance measures Nevada does not like and to bring to a vote measures which Nevada does like, regardless of their wisdom, fairness to the rest of the country, or ultimate cost.

But the people of Nevada are acting rationally within the system as it exists.

Until the Constition is amended to replace the Congressional seniority systems with something better, Reid and Pelosi will be the inevitable result.

njcommuter on July 26, 2008 at 10:42 AM

Just more proof that the dems are idiots.

thekingtut on July 26, 2008 at 10:46 AM

Taxes ARE voluntary. You don’t have to work. You don’t have to own property. You don’t have to buy anything. Anyone can volunteer to become homeless. Perhaps Dirty Harry can demonstrate the volunteer nature of taxes by personal example?

NotCoach on July 26, 2008 at 10:51 AM

njcommuter on July 26, 2008 at 10:42 AM

You do realize that if the people of Nevada didn’t re-elect this imbecile that he would no longer be in the senate don’t you?

Big Orange on July 26, 2008 at 10:53 AM

I WANT MY MONEY BACK.

joeswampy on July 26, 2008 at 10:54 AM

Until the Constition is amended to replace the Congressional seniority systems with something better, Reid and Pelosi will be the inevitable result.

njcommuter on July 26, 2008 at 10:42 AM

We don’t need a constitutional amendment for congress to change how they govern themselves. In fact I would be opposed to such an amendment. Just make the clowns suffer politically for their choices.

NotCoach on July 26, 2008 at 10:55 AM

Taxes ARE voluntary. You don’t have to work. You don’t have to own property. You don’t have to buy anything. Anyone can volunteer to become homeless. Perhaps Dirty Harry can demonstrate the volunteer nature of taxes by personal example?

NotCoach on July 26, 2008 at 10:51 AM

Yep. And as taxes reach levels over 50% on successful small businessmen, we’ll see that hustling for extra work simply becomes more trouble than it’s worth. One of many things that will contribute to the depression that will occur if the D’s implement their policies.

forest on July 26, 2008 at 11:02 AM

Actually, the federal income tax did start its life as a voluntary payment, but that was many, many moons ago and millions of liberals before now. But this is how all these things go and why government must always be kept on a short leash. A $3,000,000,000,000 annual budget is an absolute farce, and the services could probably be done better for less than a third of the cost.

progressoverpeace on July 26, 2008 at 11:04 AM

How on Earth does someone this incomprehensibly stupid get voted into office repeatedly?

drjohn on July 26, 2008 at 11:08 AM

Having elected this guy for over 20 years says something about the intelligent level of the people of Nevada doesn’t it? Too bad Reid passed away over a decade ago and the MSM kept the news from the Nevada electorate. The MSM was so successful that Reid was made Senate Majority Leader posthumously. If taxes were not mandatory, how would the dims be able to buy votes?

volsense on July 26, 2008 at 11:14 AM

Here’s how to not pay taxes: DON’T WORK. Besides, isn’t that the role of the government to provide citizens with lodging, food and currency? In the demented Democrat view of the world, it is.

Dr.Cwac.Cwac on July 26, 2008 at 11:16 AM

It’s a technical and semantic point, but Reid is right about this. The interviewer was being obtuse.

DaveS on July 26, 2008 at 11:16 AM

The second commenter on the Free Liberal blog explains it pretty well.

DaveS on July 26, 2008 at 11:18 AM

How on Earth does someone this incomprehensibly stupid get voted into office repeatedly?

drjohn on July 26,2008 at 11:14 AM

Run for office in a state like Nevada and be able to prove beyond all doubt that you are brain dead.

volsense on July 26, 2008 at 11:18 AM

Classic. AP posted this video a few months ago: http://hotair.com/archives/2008/04/01/comedy-gold-harry-reid-on-whether-taxes-are-voluntary/

starflyer on July 26, 2008 at 11:19 AM

How on Earth does someone this incomprehensibly stupid get voted into office repeatedly?

drjohn on July 26, 2008 at 11:08 AM

See The Messiah, Cape Cod Orca, Lurch, FrankenFeinstein, Little Dick, etc.

Dr.Cwac.Cwac on July 26, 2008 at 11:22 AM

It’s a technical and semantic point, but Reid is right about this. The interviewer was being obtuse.

DaveS on July 26, 2008 at 11:16 AM

I am going to have to disagree because the implication from Reid was that we don’t have to pay taxes if we don’t want to. The discussion was not about filing and collection.

NotCoach on July 26, 2008 at 11:37 AM

Lots of people here are complaining about the good citizens of Nevada electing this POS, bbut no one seems to be noting that the other knot heads in the Senate are the ones who put him in power.

Buford Gooch on July 26, 2008 at 11:56 AM

Don’t blame this Nevadan for Scarry Reid. I helped out with the OTHER guy’s campaign. I’m hoping that my fellow Nevadans will see more clearly next time out.

Mojave Mark on July 26, 2008 at 12:03 PM

WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE LIBS WHO VOTE FOR THESE IMBICILES? Jesus H Christ! WAKE UP!

marklmail on July 26, 2008 at 12:45 PM

Ed, as I have said before, don’t chalk up to ignorance that which are willful and malicious acts of deception. Reid’s arguments on this, as with Pelosi’s arguments on opening up OCS drilling, may appear to be vapidly moronic, but they have been carefully, and are now desperately, chosen attempts to get their way regardless how illogical or lacking in commonsense the attempts appear.

Dusty on July 26, 2008 at 12:54 PM

Boycott Nevada! until they free us of this rancid turd. (I mean that in a good way of course.)

ronsfi on July 26, 2008 at 1:01 PM

The income tax is ‘voluntary.’

You guys are using the wrong definition of the word. There doesn’t need to be free choice for the tax to be voluntary. It just means you comply.

If cops surround a house and tell the suspect to come out, and he does, then he came out voluntarily. Even though he was under threat of force.

It’s a dumb way to describe complying with extortion, but it’s accurate.

Jimmy Liberty on July 26, 2008 at 1:04 PM

That all depends on what the meaning of the word “is”, is.

TooTall on July 26, 2008 at 1:17 PM

Jimmy Liberty on July 26, 2008 at 1:04 PM

I understand your point, but I cannot agree with the definition – even though many would use it in that situation. It is, however, inaccurate. One cannot do something voluntarily under threat of punishment. The threat, itself, affects the thinking and makes the decision more than the individual’s volition at work. Self-executing is different from voluntary, though many will not see that difference in various usages of the word. The suspect can be said to have emerged voluntarily, but we all know that it was not as if he actually had much of a choice – come out or die in a hail of bullets. That’s the very definition of coercion, right? By your definition, anything that is coerced is also called voluntary.

progressoverpeace on July 26, 2008 at 1:20 PM

In a nation of three hundred plus million, this moron is the leader of our Senate….in the whole state of Nevada they couldn’t find anyone more qualified to represent them. How far have we fallen? This dinosaur is proof positive that evolution does produce paths to extinction.

vcunn22 on July 26, 2008 at 1:21 PM

[Jimmy Liberty on July 26, 2008 at 1:04 PM]

It’s a reasonable point, but I think it’s wrong as you presume your example is a proper use of the word, rather than a convenient use of the word. You might just as well say the person voluntarily came out of the house as the engulfing flames nipped at his heels.

Dusty on July 26, 2008 at 1:25 PM

Dear Voters Of Nevada,

Do the rest of us a favor! Next time this moronic fool is up for re-election, vote for somebody else instead!

pilamaye on July 26, 2008 at 1:28 PM

After looking in to it more, I could be wrong. I’m trying to find the legal definition of the word. I know the IRS refers to “voluntary compliance.”

Regardless, Reid’s argument is terrible. Whether the IRS uses the word “voluntary” or not, the tax is still theft backed up by the threat of force.

Jimmy Liberty on July 26, 2008 at 1:47 PM

Jimmy Liberty on July 26, 2008 at 1:47 PM

Words are changed/abused in many fields. One of the first thing a field does is redefine common words to their own meaning. I would put the use of ‘voluntary’ with respect to taxation in the same category as the phrase ‘affirmative action’. In fact, this whole debate is very reminiscent of the arguments that affirmative action does not involve bias/quotas/racism/ethnicism/… though on a much smaller scale. (I know that you were not agreeing with Reid, in substance, but just looking at the technical use of the term)

If Reid had a brain he would have said that he was speaking in technical jargon that was not in sync with the standard definition of the word instead of trying to prove that it was literally true. But, it seems that Harry didn’t really understand what he was talking about – nothing unusual there.

progressoverpeace on July 26, 2008 at 2:08 PM

what does that say about his constituents…besides not much.

oldernslower on July 26, 2008 at 3:00 PM

Easiest clincher question to nail Reid to the wall:

[drumroll]

“Senator Reid, if there really were no penalties of any kind for not paying taxes, what percentage of Americans do you suppose would voluntarily pay them?”

fossten on July 26, 2008 at 3:06 PM

The distinction between other countries that take the tax out of the paycheck and our system is a good one. That is why the IRS calls it “voluntary” compliance. So I think he’s right there.

Where he’s dead wrong is suggesting that the income tax isn’t forceful.

Jimmy Liberty on July 26, 2008 at 3:26 PM

Harry says,
“Reid my lips: Taxes are voluntary, the Iraq War is lost, & Bush is a failure.”
Nice.

jgapinoy on July 26, 2008 at 3:51 PM

Voluntary, involuntary… so much caviling over euphemistic semantics… it’s a distinction without a difference…

elgeneralisimo on July 26, 2008 at 3:56 PM

Hey! Waitaminnit! This is (GASP) SWIFTBOATING!

heldmyw on July 26, 2008 at 4:46 PM

WTF?!?

What kind of drugs was this corrupt senator using?

Hammie on July 26, 2008 at 5:02 PM

What is law?

There are only three fundimental laws.
These are natural laws
1. You can’t murder
2. You can’t assault.
3. You can’t steal.

Beyond that, all rules are bullsh/t.

Actually, it all comes down to one thing: you can only do something that involves someone else if they give informed consent. The informed consent bit assumes 1) age of consent, 2) mental ability to understand what is being consented to, and 3) that full and accurate information has been provided.
This covers every neccessary law from murder, assault, rape, and theft down to fraud and con jobs; the quoted definition above misses a lot of those.

I would add that regulating ‘the commons’ is also a sensible thing and a proper role for government; some extreme libertarians disagree with that, but they’re all stoned and hinging out with hookers all the time anyways so who cares what they think. Our current regulations with regards to ‘commons’ are too intrusive, though.

Wealth redistribution at the point of a gun is theft if not tyranny. All libertarians and many conservatives agree with that much.

TABoLK on July 26, 2008 at 5:34 PM

The old saying goes, “Two things are certain: death and taxes.” Voluntarily, of course!

Steve McCullough on July 26, 2008 at 6:22 PM

Reid says taxes “voluntary”

If you decide NOT to volunteer your taxes…? LMAO

Chakra Hammer on July 26, 2008 at 6:36 PM

How can Harry Reid be a leader in the Senate when he’s so ignorant?

Come on..

Chakra Hammer on July 26, 2008 at 6:38 PM

Senile
Dense
Fool
Ideologue
Bullsh+tter
Blowhard
Ignorant
Serial Liar

….a Democrat for all seasons

Janos Hunyadi on July 26, 2008 at 6:46 PM

In need of thread:

Damn the bail-outs!

Curse the politician who forces tax payers to subsidize the tax payer’s own demise in order to provide EVERY OPPORTUNITY to the locusts devouring everything, eliminating our chances for well being, making survival THAT MUCH HARDER for those of us with our noses to the damn grindstone!

maverick muse on July 26, 2008 at 7:10 PM

Reid reveals himself to be a clueless fool in the course of less than five minutes…

Minus the credits and set-up, I timed less than 30 seconds for that hypothesis to be proven beyond a shadow of a reasonable doubt.

Citizens of Nevada…WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?!?

ynot4tony2 on July 27, 2008 at 1:45 PM

If Mr. REID is right, let us do away with AUTOMATIC DEDUCTIONS, and have the people send in taxes on April 15th… Then Mr. REID will indeed see how VOLUNTARY our tax system is… What say you to that MR. REID???

pueblo1032 on July 27, 2008 at 1:52 PM

Reid tries to argue that taxes are voluntary

HARRY REID, YOU ARE AN EFFING IMBECILE…

Not to mention the fines, tell that to ALL of the “voluntary” tax evaders, and judges that have many rotting in federal prisons.

byteshredder on July 27, 2008 at 6:10 PM

Voluntarily not file, or pay, and the feds will voluntarily take your house, your car, your kids, your wife, and your dog….

Voluntary my over-taxed ass……

ritethinker on July 27, 2008 at 6:50 PM