Perry’s Plan

This week Rick Perry announced his tax reform plan, the first step in an effort to revitalize his image after some brutal debates. (Unfortunately for him, his comments on Obama’s place of birth overshadowed the carefully-crafted announcement.)

The Washington Post has a good article and accompanying chart comparing the various tax plans put forward by the Republican candidates.The New York Times has a chart on how it would impact various American families. (What I’d really like to see is a web calculator that would allow you to easily test the outcomes of the various plans for a given set circumstances. Since the plans all tout their simplicity, this shouldn’t be too difficult.)

As part of Perry’s announcement, he published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal describing the new plan. It seemed to just cry for political analysis, so I gave it a close read. You can open the pdf of my analysis here, or just read some brief observations below.

  • Perry’s decision to couch his tax proposal an a “Perry v. Washington” rhetorical framework is an excellent indication of where his candidacy is heading. He used this message to great effect in his last gubernatorial campaign (against Senator Hutchinson). Expect to see more of it deployed against both Obama and Romney, no matter what the topic.
  • With complex and simple already spoken for (by Romney and Cain respectively), Perry has opted for “both of the above.” On the one hand he’s proposing a flat tax of 20%. On the other hand, he’s leaving the old plan in place, in case that’s cheaper for you. So all of those millions of lines of tax code he likes to mock: still there once his plan goes into effect.
  • What’s most revealing is what’s missing. His plan for cutting spending? A promise to “establish a clear goal of balancing the budget by 2020.” Regulatory reform? A temporary moratorium and “a full audit.” Social Security Reform? Guarantees for the elderly and the option of opting out for the young. In other words, no solvency plan. His tax plan just isn’t credible without addressing these related items in a concrete fashion. I’ll be counting the days until that happens.

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