Photo: Flickr Gage Skidmore
Like the current tax code? Rick Perry says you can keep it. Want to daydream about being rich enough to pay a much lower flat-tax? Rick Perry has another tax-code he’d like to create just for that purpose.
Rick Perry has just unveiled his tax-plan. It institutes a 20 per cent flat tax that maintains the charitable and mortgage interest deductions. But Perry doesn’t have all that much faith in his scheme, as he would allow anyone who wants to file under the current code the option to do so.
This is an admission that for many Americans the status quo is actually better than anything Rick Perry’s team can devise.
Perry’s tax plan would preserve all the confusion, waste, and market distortions in the current code, and add another layer. The politicians who manage that would get a new tax code to fiddle with as a bonus — one that has little substance beyond massively cutting taxes for the wealthy. Perry is selling simplicity to the GOP’s base voters — that’s the most appealing thing about a flat-tax — but most of these voters would actually pay less under the current more confusing code.
Perry claims that tax filers could fill out their taxes on a post-card. That’s true, but most taxpayers would have to at least calculate what their tax bill will be under both plans. Perry’s GOP rivals should feast on him for making Americans calculate two bills for themselves.
Perry’s plan also calls for a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. Many Republicans claim that this kind of Constitutional solution works on the state level. But states don’t have central banks or their own Treasury Department. A Balanced Budget Amendment is an invitation to make federal finances more opaque, or to encourage outright fraud — especially when you add Perry’s idea to cap federal government spending at 18 per cent of GDP.
Perry’s plan is not as simple as Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan or even Jon Huntsman’s more progressive tax-simplification plan. Perry has managed to release a tax plan that is bad politics on top of bad policy.
It’s difficult to imagine that Perry has the capacity to explain his plan with any sense of confidence. Mitt Romney’s economic plan may be over 50 pages long, but Romney can recite PowerPoint-style presentations spontaneously. Rick Perry forgets his one-liners halfway through delivering them.
Perry’s editorial outlining his plan didn’t even mention whether his team believed it was revenue-neutral. Does he care? Probably not. Does it matter? Of course not. This plan is only good for disqualifying the candidate who bothered to suggest it.
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