It’s been just one week since Texas Gov. Rick Perry launched his 2012 presidential campaign, and already campaign staffers are doing some serious damage control to reassure voters that their candidate doesn’t want to completely dismantle the federal government.In the face of heightened scrutiny into Perry’s 2010 small-government manifesto Fed Up!, the campaign walked back today from yet another provocative argument espoused in the book: That the U.S. should repeal the federal government’s 16th Amendment authority to impose income taxes and replace it with an alternative tax system.
In the book, Perry lays out two distinct alternatives to the federal income tax. The first is to “totally scrap the current tax code in favour of a flat tax;” the second, more radical, proposal would impose a national sales tax, which Perry dubs the “Fair Tax.”
But when asked by the WaPo’s Greg Sargent whether Perry stands by his Fed Up! proposals, the campaign again took pains to put daylight between the candidate and the views espoused in his treatise.
Here is Perry spokesman Mark Miner’s emailed statement, via Sargent:
“The 16th Amendment instituting a federal income tax starting at one per cent has exploded into onerous, complex and confusing tax rates and rules for American workers over the last century. The need for job creation in the wake of the explosion of federal debt and costly entitlement programs, mean the best course of action in the near future is a simpler, flatter and broader tax system that unleashes production, creates jobs, and creates more taxpayers. We can’t undo more than 70 years of progressive taxation and worsening debt obligations overnight.”
Note that the email makes no mention of the Fair Tax, the more radical of Perry’s two proposals. Not only does Miner decline to confirm Perry’s support for repealing the 16th Amendment, he only acknowledges the governor’s more moderate suggestion to replace the income tax with a flatter tax system.
It’s the second time this week that Perry’s campaign has had to distance the candidate from his book’s controversial, anti-Washington arguments. On Friday, a Perry spokesman assured the Wall Street Journal that the Texas Republican does not want to do away with Social Security, a program his book refers to as an unconstitutional “Ponzi scheme.”