Texas Gov. Rick Perry's optional 20 percent flat-tax proposal is a sop to the rich, but it's also a well-aimed punch at Mitt Romney, his main rival for the Republican presidential nomination, says Jonathan Chait in New York. Embracing the flat tax allows Perry "to outflank Romney with the GOP money class" and fiscal conservatives, because the multi-millionaire Romney can't jump on the flat-tax bandwagon. Why? He's simply too wealthy. It would look awful if he began championing "policies that redistribute wealth upward." Perry, unburdened by a "wealthy personal life," as Romney is, "doesn't have to abstain, or pretend to abstain, from waging class war." Here's an excerpt:
This is an unexplored and under-appreciated problem for the frontrunner. Romney is a rich businessman, and his wealth creates a vulnerability in a potential matchup with President Obama, who will no doubt paint him as looking out for the interests of his fellow richies. In response to that vulnerability, Romney has shrewdly gone out of his way to paint himself as a defender of the middle class. He is not proposing any additional tax cuts for the rich (beyond those implemented by George W. Bush) or tax increases for the lower half of the income distribution, setting himself apart from many fellow partisans. This has conservative elites more than a little nervous.