In the fall of 2009 former Ohio Democratic Congressman James Traficant was released from a Minnesota prison after serving seven years after being convicted on bribery, tax evasion and racketeering charges. But in a brief conversation with CL on Friday he said he didn't want to talk about that, instead keeping the spotlight on his appearance in Oldsmar this Monday and Tuesday evening on behalf of Project Freedom, the group he has helped create that is pushing for the elimination of the IRS and replacing it with a 15 percent flat sales tax.
But he couldn't help but defend himself from what he says was a flawed case by the U.S. government, who charged him with filing false tax returns and accepting free labor and materials for his Ohio farm from contractors in exchange for giving them congressional favors. Those actions led to him becoming just the second House member since the Civil War to be voted out for unethical behavior.
"I could have gotten out in six months. All I had to do to say I was guilty. I wasn’t guilty," he said by telephone on Friday afternoon. "Revelations will come out of my trial, and more than likely I expect not too long (from now) to probably have the conviction overturned." He remains indignant about his prosecution, claiming the government "lied" after a six-year investigation that he says cost over $25 million and had 250 federal agents following him, all "while the Pentagon was being bombed, while the World Trade Center was being demolished - they were trailing Jim Traficant," he recounts.
"But I don't want to get into that," he repeats. But then he goes on to do just that, claiming that he was a "top target" of the Israeli government for his championing of John Demjanjuk, the Cleveland man and Ukrainian P.O.W. in Germany and Poland who prosecutors called "Ivan the terrible" who was responsible for the killing of Jews at the Treblinka, Majdanek and Sobibor death camps. (Demanjuk died in 2012).
Okay - so let's not talk about the past. Traficant will be speaking this Monday and Tuesday evening at Community Action Center inside the Woodland Square Shopping Center (3150 Tampa Road) in Oldsmar at 6:30 p.m. The topic is advocating for a national flat sales tax, a proposal that's been proposed and gone nowhere in Congress for decades.
Project Freedom's plan is unlike the 23 percent flat tax championed by Mike Huckabee and others, a proposal that Traficant says is weak because it would "leave big government in place." Not this plan. Traficant says there would be no exceptions, but there would be a rebate for basic necessities, "for those living in poverty or whatever."
Under the plan corporations would pay no taxes (which frankly is the case already with some of our biggest companies). It would end all withholding, all tax on savings, all taxes on investments, all taxes on corporations and eliminate taxes on Medicare and Social Security.
The plan also calls for a 30 percent reduction of all spending inside the government, making the sequester look like modest in comparison. He does allow for "some" deficit spending initially until the transition to the new economy can take shape. And it would also kill the Federal Reserve System.
"We have a tax code that obliterates jobs, kills investment, subsidizes illegitimacy, rewards dependency. It’s got to go," he declares and worries that if the U.S. isn't careful, it could go the way the Soviet Union did in collapsing two decades ago.
Is this credible? That's up for you to decide. But it will probably be entertaining, if you're into this sort of thing. Again, Traficant speaks in Oldsmar on June 2 and June 3. Organizers are requesting a $2 donation to attend to cover expenses.
(As the commentator notes below, the original post listed Traficant as a Republican).