House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) would like to abolish the Internal Revenue Service and replace the current tax system with either a flat tax, a national sales tax or a value-added tax, according to his new book.

In his book, "Speaker: Lessons From Forty Years in Coaching and Politics," Hastert suggests that a new tax system would increase productivity and "double the economy" over the next 15 years.

"All of a sudden, the problem of what future generations owe in Social Security and Medicare won't seem so daunting anymore," Hastert wrote.

A flat tax is a uniform tax rate, a national sales tax is levied on retail sales, and a value-added tax (VAT) is imposed at every sales level. Top GOP leaders have repeatedly vowed to overhaul the nation's tax code, but they have yet to bring such a bill to a vote.

Hastert said he has discussed the idea with President Bush but Bush has yet to endorse it, according to Hastert spokesman John Feehery.

"People ask me if I'm really calling for the elimination of the IRS, and I say I think that's a great thing to do for future generations of Americans," Hastert wrote.

John Buckley, tax counsel for Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee, notes that since 1997 the Republicans have "complicated our tax laws fairly dramatically since they've taken control of Congress but have only spoken of reform."

Jet Ski for the Cause

You just missed your chance to buy Mitch Daniels's Jet Ski.

The former White House budget chief, now running for governor of Indiana, auctioned off his water scooter yesterday in the hopes of raising some cash -- and having a little fun -- in his bid against Democratic Gov. Joseph E. Kernan.

"Ridden regularly by Mitch himself, it's not only fast and super fun, it's famous (and remember, your money is going to a VERY good cause)," his campaign Web site said. In the end, after 19 bids, the watercraft (1998, purple seat, available for pickup in Indianapolis) went for $1,230, according to his site.

There's still time, though, to bid on a ride in his campaign RV (that would be "RV One"). Bidding began last week at $25, but after 15 offers, the price had increased yesterday afternoon to $300. There's also a door handle from RV One for sale ($50), along with an autographed videotape of his travels around the Hoosier State that was going for $65.

All of which raises the question: Is Mitch Daniels having trouble raising money? Has the man who helped President Bush manage the budget been reduced to selling off his belongings? Not at all, said Christie Luther, who helps manage his Web site.

"The money is almost like an extra little perk," she said. "It's just a funny idea."


"I know this is a question that will come up, about what kind of bounce do we expect at our convention. Looking at it historically, incumbents usually get a bounce that's equal to about two-thirds of what the challenger's bounce is. So if you want to put that in your calculus . . . two-thirds of zero is -- and my math is pretty simple here -- is zero. So, that's our expectation on our bounce."

-- Bush-Cheney '04 chief strategist Matthew Dowd, on a campaign conference call yesterday.

Political researcher Brian Faler and staff writer Mike Allen contributed to this report.