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Rick Perry's flat-tax plan: 'Bold' or 'regressive'?
The Texas governor unveils an optional 20-percent tax rate to boost the economy — and his presidential campaign
Texas Gov. Rick Perry unveiled his plan for a flat tax on Tuesday, and said he'd avoid raising taxes on poor Americans by letting them stick with the current system.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry unveiled his plan for a flat tax on Tuesday, and said he'd avoid raising taxes on poor Americans by letting them stick with the current system.
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n a bid to jumpstart his stalled presidential campaign, Texas Gov. Rick Perry unveiled a "bold" tax plan on Tuesday, promising that it would give the economy a much-needed lift. Perry, speaking at a South Carolina plastics factory, proposed a flat, 20 percent tax to dramatically simplify the tax code, allowing people to fill out their returns on a postcard. To prevent the plan from raising taxes on poor and middle-class Americans — most of whom pay less than 20 percent in income taxes — Perry said anyone now paying a lower rate could opt to stick with the current system. Still, critics derided Perry's plan as "regressive." Would a flat tax really be good for America?

Absolutely not — this is a sop to the rich: All Perry is doing is slashing income and investment taxes for the rich, says Jonathan Bernstein at The Washington Post. And "the genius" of the plan is that it also frees them tax-time paperwork, while the rest of us are stuck with the complicated old system. Working class taxes won't change — and the poor will actually pay more if the Earned Income Tax Credit is repealed. "It's hard to believe that's a winner, even among Republican primary voters."
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Perry is onto something here: This could be a "game changer" for Perry's campaign, and for taxpayers, says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. Perry is pushing exemptions for a family of four to $50,000, which should keep "Democrats from demagoguing it as an attack on the middle class." And slashing the corporate tax rate to 20 percent, as Perry proposes, would keep Congress from stifling business. The only problem is letting individuals opt out — "we have enough problems with one system, let alone two."
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Love it or hate it, Perry's plan won't pass: Many conservatives think Perry's flat tax is "cool," says Jay Newton-Small at TIME. But "fiscal critics already have their red pens out," and they don't like what they see. The non-partisan Tax Policy Center said a similar plan proposed by John McCain in 2008 would have added $7 trillion to the deficit over a decade. Regardless, Perry's plan may already have served its true purpose, by making his rival Mitt Romney look "timid" by comparison.
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