If you listen at about the two-minute mark of the video embedded in the N.Y. Post article
of Senator Barack Obama discussing taxes with Joe Wurzelbacher, probably now known forever as Joe the Plumber, you’ll hear Joe suggest a flat tax to the candidate.

Senator Obama replies that he is open to the flat tax idea but thought it would take too high of a tax rate to get the needed revenue.

A decade and a half ago, another Democratic presidential candidate rode the flat tax idea a long way in the nominating process, much further than most pundits thought he would go. That candidate was Jerry Brown, California’s current attorney general.

And, perhaps the once and future governor?

Is the flat tax still an idea Brown would promote in a gubernatorial campaign?

Brown’s flat tax plan of 1992, shaped by supply-side economist Arthur Laffer, called for a 13-percent income tax rate and a 13-percent value added tax while doing away with most tax loopholes. The New York Times called Brown’s proposal the “…one truly creative and important idea to emerge from this Presidential campaign.” The Times did criticize Brown for the way he was delivering the message but pointed out that his plan to encourage savings and simplify the tax code was “exactly right.” The plan also found support with the New Republic and Forbes magazines.

In Obama’s off-the-cuff objection to Joe the Plumber’s flat tax idea, the senator talked about a high sales tax, but it was unclear whether he was talking about a pure flat sales tax to gather all needed federal revenues or a sales tax in addition to the flat income tax, perhaps as an alternative to the value added tax in Brown’s plan.

A Governor Brown (redo) might look positively on a flat tax plan for California. Laffer is a strong proponent of a flat tax to drive growth in a languishing economy. The Golden State desperately needs growth as an economic boost. Laffer proposed his flat tax/value added tax plan to Governor Schwarzenegger who did not adopt it.

But Jerry Brown already made a flat tax proposal his own in a presidential race and saw it take him a long way in that political campaign. It is not so hard to imagine he will seek a repeat performance.

If successful, maybe a future Governor Brown can convince Joe the Plumber to move his newly acquired business to California.