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Rick Perry’s tax plan fails to capture an audience

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Sep 3, 2005
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Rick Perry's tax plan fails to capture an audience

Posted on October 26, 2011 at 6:22 pm by Francisca Ortega in Budget, Gov. Rick Perry

Texas Gov. Rick Perry was hoping the tax proposal he unveiled Tuesday would capture national headlines, reverse his precipitous slide in the polls, blunt the momentum of Georgia businessman Herman Cain and focus campaign debate on his strong suit, the economy.

But one day after it was rolled out live on several cable news channels, the Texas governor's optional 20 percent flat tax plan received modest media coverage Wednesday and was not even mentioned on the homepage of Politico.com, the nation's most widely read political web site.

What's more, National Review, the longtime bible of conservative political thought, gave Perry credit for "some real steps forward" on spending reduction but panned his tax plan.

"Republicans should try for something better," the publication declared in an online editorial.

To be sure, not all of the candidates' economic plans have generated as much attention as Cain's catchy 9-9-9 plan. And despite the criticism, some campaign analysts say Perry may have found a winning political formula with his 20 percent flat tax option.

"It is relatively simple to understand, like Cain's 9-9-9 plan, and far less complicated than Romney's (59 point) plan," said Carleton College political scientist Steven E. Schier. "I think this will appeal to many in the GOP base."

Indeed, it already has. Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform and author of the no-tax-increase pledge embraced by almost all GOP officeholders, told the Houston Chronicle that Perry's plan "is very good. I'm very happy." And the libertarian Cato Institute gave Perry a B+ for his work.

But other influential conservatives were far from complimentary.

"The whole idea doesn't make any sense," said American Enterprise Institute economics scholar Alan Viard, who served on President George W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisers. "This is a revenue-losing plan. I think that's a fatal flaw."

Perry unfazed

Complaints from conservative economists fell into two categories. The first argued that the proposal makes a complicated tax system even more complicated by giving taxpayers an option of paying a flat tax or using the current system. The second complaint came from deficit hawks who say the plan — by guaranteeing that no business or individual would pay more taxes than they do today — would cause deficits to soar by slashing the amount of tax revenue received by the federal government.

The Texas governor was unfazed by the criticism and said he's not at all bothered by the thought of his tax plan causing government revenues to decline.

"Well, I don't really worry about what the feds are going to lose," he told Fox News host Bill O'Reilly. "What I'm worried about is getting people back to work in this country, because the fact of the matter is the spending problem is what we've got in this country."

'Birther' controversy

Complicating Perry's rollout was a media tempest provoked by the candidate's ill-timed comment in a CNBC interview Tuesday that he wanted to have some "fun" with President Obama over the president's college grades and birthplace. The "birther" talk went viral on the Internet and provided grist for cable news shows.

Perry's campaign Wednesday tried to put that issue behind him today by telling a St. Petersburg Times interviewer that he now has no doubt that Obama was born in the U.S.

Just as Perry was trying to regain his footing, however, another struggling GOP presidential candidate launched a broadside at him. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, one of only three candidates running behind Perry in the latest CBS News/New York Times poll, accused the Texas governor of pilfering her own tax plan, which has yet to get much traction on the campaign trail.

"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," she posted on Facebook. "Thank you Governor Perry for using my ideas for your tax plan."

–Kyle Glazier of the Washington bureau contributed to this report.


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