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Alan Keyes

Republican Senate candidate Alan Keyes has come out in favor of giving descendants of black slaves an exemption from federal income tax.

“When a city had been devastated [in the Roman empire], for a certain length of time – a generation or two – they exempted the damaged city from taxation,” he told reporters yesterday in Chicago.

According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, Keyes is proposing that for a generation or two, African-Americans who are of slave heritage should be exempted from federal taxes. He says federal taxes should be targeted because slavery “was an egregious failure on the part of the federal establishment.”

Keyes, who recently moved to Illinois to challenge Democrat Barack Obama for a U.S. Senate seat, says under his proposal blacks would get “a competitive edge in the labor market,” because those exempted would be cheaper to hire than federal tax-paying employees and would “compensate for all those years when your labor was being exploited.”

The Keyes plan would not include contributions to Social Security because those are not taxes “in the strict sense,” he said.

In 2002, on his MSNBC talk show, “Alan Keyes is Making Sense,” the candidate sparred with one of his guests, an advocate of reparations, asking, “You want to tell me that what they suffered can actually be repaired with money? You’re going to do the same thing those slaveholders did, put a money price on something that can’t possibly be quantified in that way.”

In a column in 2002, Keyes argued against the “extortion” of using other taxpayers’ money to pay descendants of slaves:

Holy Week is a season for reflecting on a great price paid, once and for all, and the life that arose in triumph over sin and evil once that price was paid. And what an unfortunate season, indeed, for some to renew their effort to extort “reparations” for slavery from their fellow citizens.

Yet, lawsuits have been filed. Those responsible propose to settle the accounts of slavery leaving the Civil War out of the equation – complete and utter nonsense. The price for the sin of slavery has already been paid, in blood.

In a statement from his campaign, Keyes said his proposal “has the advantage of letting people help themselves, rather than pouring money into government bureaucracies that displace and discourage their own efforts. It takes no money from other citizens, while righting the historic imbalance that results from the truth that black slaves toiled for generations at a tax rate that was effectively 100 percent.”

Continued Keyes: “I have also made it clear that while I believe that the descendants of slaves would be helped by this period of tax relief, my firm goal and ultimate objective is to replace the income tax, and thereby free all Americans from this insidious form of tax slavery. It is well known that this is one of the key priorities of the Keyes campaign.”

Obama disagreed with Keyes’ plan, saying that the “legacy and stain of slavery is immeasurable,” the Tribune reported.

“I generally think that the best strategies for moving forward involve vigorously enforcing our anti-discrimination laws in education and job training and other programs that can lift all people out of poverty,” Obama said.

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