Postcards from the Edge

Rick Perry lays out his tax plan, revives the birther issue and continues his free fall in the polls.


Eileen Smith

This week Rick Perry unveiled his long-awaited economic plan that would provide taxpayers with a choice: Continue being government stooges by paying your current income tax rate or liberate yourself by opting for a 20 percent flat-rate income tax. For a household that makes more than $200,000, it’s a pretty good deal. It gets better and better the more money you make. You might think that amounts to a big tax cut for the rich, but that’s because you’re a bitter middle-class income earner. Maybe you should work harder. In his speech Tuesday from South Carolina, Perry said his plan would lower and simplify taxes so much that (wealthy) Americans could file their future taxes on a postcard! Finally, a chance to get rid of all those worthless 29-cent stamps.

Another perk for the rich in Perry’s plan is the abolishment of the estate (“death”) tax and capital gains tax. Another bummer for the poor is the repealing of the Earned Income Tax Credit. Perry says his budget plan will also lower the corporate tax rate to 20 percent from 35 percent. So where will the money come from? As E.J. Dionne noted in The Washington Post, Perry’s tax proposal (which he calls “atrocious”) would require draconian cuts in Medicare and Social Security and various other ponzi schemes.

Even the conservative National Review didn’t seem overly impressed:

His plan reads like a second draft. He has chosen to avoid the political liabilities of a flat tax by forgoing its distinctive advantages of simplicity and low compliance costs. The hybrid tax system he would create would in no important sense be flat, and Perry seems unwilling to spell out the cuts necessary to get spending in rough balance with the amount of revenue it would collect. Republicans should try for something better.

Perry seems to be going in the wrong direction. According to a new CBS News poll, 64 percent of Americans say taxes should be increased on households earning $1 million or more. Next stop: Occupy Rick Perry.

It’s the birth certificate, stupid!

Of course, Perry’s economic plan was overshadowed this week by his comments concerning President Obama’s citizenship. Did someone forget to tell him that the birther movement is over? Even birthers aren’t birthers anymore. Perry told PARADE magazine—that revered publication nestled in between General Mills coupons and Sudoku—that he has “no idea” whether Obama’s long-form birth certificate is authentic. Later Perry insisted he was just “poking fun” at the president. Must be an inside joke.

Shake It Up

The latest NYT/CBS poll shows that Perry has slipped to fifth place overall with only 6 percent support among likely Republican voters. Seems like a good time to shake up the old campaign staff. Perry has hired four veteran Republican political operatives, including former Bush adviser Joe Allbaugh, pollster Tony Fabrizo, media consultant Curt Anderson and former Dole spokesman Nelson Warfield. He also added former McCain adviser Jim Innocenzi and Republican strategist Fred Maas. So he’s got someone from Dole and someone from McCain. Aren’t you supposed to hire people who can actually win elections?

Apparently longtime Perry adviser Dave Carney has been demoted, although he’ll officially be “sharing duties” with Allbaugh. Like grabbing him coffee.