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October 25, 2011 8:35 AM Rick Perry has a tax plan

By Steve Benen

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry, desperate to get his flailing campaign back on track, has a new idea. He calls it “Cut, Balance and Grow” (not to be confused with “Cut, Cap, and Balance”), and presents his pitch in a Wall Street Journal op-ed this morning.

While Perry’s plan has some fairly dramatic flaws — it’s a comical right-wing fantasy, built on numbers that don’t add up — I’ll at least give him credit for thinking big. Some candidates would be content unveiling a ridiculous flat-tax proposal, but the Texas governor is pushing a ridiculous flat-tax proposal and a ridiculous plan for partial privatization of Social Security and a ridiculous effort to eliminate the Estate Tax and reducing the capital-gains tax to 0%.

But wait, there’s more. Perry also intends to repeal the entirety of the Affordable Care Act and remove safeguards from the financial industry and amend the U.S. Constitution to require balanced budgets and impose draconian caps on all federal spending.

How would Perry pay for all of these massive tax cuts? He doesn’t say. But don’t worry, the governor believes he can do all of this while also balancing the budget.

Is anyone really supposed to take this nonsense seriously?

I especially enjoyed Kevin Drum’s take.

What can you even say about this? It sounds less like a tax plan than a big ol’ stew pot of right-wing applause lines, all the way up to the inane insistence that eliminating the estate tax has nothing to do with rich people and is only designed to provide “needed certainty to American family farms and small businesses.” Should we laugh or cry? Perry has actually managed to combine two separate conservative memes (the estate tax is all about family farms, uncertainty is hobbling the economy) into one single sentence that makes even less sense than either of them separately. It’s hard not to be impressed.

I’d add, by the way, that the governor chatted with John Harwood about his plan, in an interview that aired this morning on CNBC. When Harwood noted that the plan looks like a massive giveaway to the rich, Perry replied, “I don’t care. I care about them having money to invest.”

In other words, Perry isn’t pretending about his intentions. The goal here is to identify those who already have the most money — and who are already getting richer all the time, consolidating an ever-growing percentage of the nation’s wealth — and shower these fortunate few with even more expansive tax breaks so they’ll have even more riches. Perry will try to pay for some of this by, of course, gutting measures that benefit working families.

This isn’t a tax policy. It’s a bad comedy.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

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  • c u n d gulag on October 25, 2011 8:48 AM:

    The Perry Tax Plan:
    "Some candidates would be content unveiling a ridiculous flat-tax proposal, but the Texas governor is pushing a ridiculous flat-tax proposal and a ridiculous plan for partial privatization of Social Security and a ridiculous effort to eliminate the Estate Tax and eliminating the capital-gains tax to 0%.

    But wait, there’s more..."

    It makes mounds and mounds of cole slaw!

    And just look at ALL of those julianned fries!!!

    We are long past where this combination of idiocy and lunacy are dangerous.

  • g on October 25, 2011 8:53 AM:

    In the same interview he apparently doubled down on birtherism.

    Rick Perry. Doubling down on stupid.

  • slappy magoo on October 25, 2011 8:53 AM:

    Thanks to the Citizens United decision, politicians don't even have to pretend they give a crap about Joe Average anymore. They're tailoring their message directly to the big money donors, because now they can be as generous as they want to be. In return, that money will be used on the most vicious attack ads you've ever seen. Seriously. It's going to be like Gangs of New York without the smell. Sure, Joe Average will know PerryRomneyCain is going to give massive amounts of tax breaks to corporations that poison the environment and pay their worker so little they're forced to go on Medicare that Joe Average has to pay for, Lord know they're not trying to hide it...but he also heard that Obama was secret gay lovers with al-Awlaki and he's secretly taking guns away from "real Americans" and giving them to terrorists to take over America's farms and flea markets. Who to trust? The guy that definitely wants to give America to the banks, or the guy who, according to the people in the news I trust, wants to give America to those filthy brown people who are too stupid to even pray to the right God? Better to just not vote.

    That's the GOP game plan. And it's worked plenty of times before with less on the line, so why wouldn't they go all-in now, when they've got nothing else to run on or with?

  • KurtRex1453 on October 25, 2011 8:54 AM:

    It has all the intellectual freshness of a college freshman's english creative writing paper. To paraphrase Ayn Rand's character Dagny, "What are you counting on?" That people won't see it for what it is, a huge transfer of wealth to the idle rich? It does not even have a fig leaf for cover of its appalling regressive nature.

  • slappy magoo on October 25, 2011 8:56 AM:

    Thanks to the Citizens United decision, politicians don't even have to pretend they give a crap about Joe Average anymore. They're tailoring their message directly to the big money donors, because now they can be as generous as they want to be. In return, that money will be used on the most vicious attack ads you've ever seen. Seriously. It's going to be like Gangs of New York without the smell. Sure, Joe Average will know PerryRomneyCain is going to give massive amounts of tax breaks to corporations that poison the environment and pay their worker so little they're forced to go on Medicare that Joe Average has to pay for, Lord know they're not trying to hide it...but he also heard that Obama was secret gay lovers with al-Awlaki and he's secretly taking guns away from "real Americans" and giving them to terrorists to take over America's farms and flea markets. Who to trust? The guy that definitely wants to give America to the banks, or the guy who, according to the people in the news I trust, wants to give America to those filthy brown people who are too stupid to even pray to the right God? Better to just not vote.

    That's the GOP game plan. And it's worked plenty of times before with less on the line, so why wouldn't they go all-in now, when they've got nothing else to run on or with?

  • Mac on October 25, 2011 8:57 AM:

    Get with the program, Steve. There are no rich folks or poor folks. Just valiant job creators and lazy welfare queens, immigrants and tax-and spend librals.

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  • Danp on October 25, 2011 9:02 AM:

    Cut, Balance and Grow? Sounds like a how-to book for bonsai lovers.

  • Josef K on October 25, 2011 9:02 AM:

    Is anyone really supposed to take this nonsense seriously?

    Certainly the crowds he talks to - the ones convinced Social Security is going broke - are likely to.

    Wonder if anyone's pointed out how much Perry himself would benefit from his own plan?

  • DAY on October 25, 2011 9:04 AM:

    A point missed in all this is that "birtherism" will trump (HAH! Day made a funny) Perry's tax plan. Even the Morning Joe crew said so.

  • RepublicanPointOfView on October 25, 2011 9:04 AM:

    Governor Perry's Tax Plan is a useful starting point for discussion.

    Everyone knows that the ONLY problems with our economy are that:
    - the wealthy do NOT have enough wealth
    - we have TOO BIG a middle class
    - the poor DO NOT pay enough taxes

  • sick-n-effn-tired. on October 25, 2011 9:10 AM:

    @ slappy
    "It's going to be like Gangs of New York without the smell"
    love the euphemism, but I ain't so sure about the smell.
    It is going to make the last election's ads look like pattycake and it will be highly odoriferous.

  • American Okie on October 25, 2011 9:12 AM:

    God save the hard working (or unemployed but searching for work) majority of the American people from these hucksters, charlatans, snake oil salesmen and shills. Flat Tax? More like the middle class is about to "flat line."

  • T2 on October 25, 2011 9:12 AM:

    Perry is working away....getting press with a plan that sounds great the first time and sounds like a tax hike the second. He's only planning to mention it once. But he has hired a seasoned GOP pro to run his campaign. The same guy that ran George W. Bush's 2000, so we know he comes with a bag full of cheating games. The most notable is the plan to find a state that will hand the election to Perry and make sure he wins there. In 2000 that state was Florida- where Bush's brother just happened to be governor and the head of the state GOP happened to control the votes in the state. This time he already has the governor of a giant state - Perry - so the cheating will be easier.

  • atlliberal on October 25, 2011 9:18 AM:

    Republicans can't add

    Wait, is this from 2000 or 2004?

    "...but the Texas governor is pushing a ridiculous flat-tax proposal and a ridiculous plan for partial privatization of Social Security and a ridiculous effort to eliminate the Estate Tax and eliminating the capital-gains tax to 0%."

    If any of these guys get elected next year it will confirm for me that we have become a country full of idiots and will have the government we deserve.

  • AndThenThere'sThat on October 25, 2011 9:23 AM:

    This time he already has the governor of a giant state - Perry - so the cheating will be easier.

    1. W was also governor of that same giant state.
    2. That giant state ain't votin' blue anytime soon, with or without cheating.
    3. Citizens United and the Diebold Corp make lying and cheating (respectively) so much easier. Campaign charlatans are optional.

  • sparky on October 25, 2011 9:49 AM:

    If things go as I fear they will and Perry gets the republican nomination Obama's best strategy will be to head straight for Texas and start campaigning. Perry is NOT that popular here. He has destroyed texas financially and left whoever succeeds him in a deep budgetary hole. Texas has a budget shortfall that rivals California's and absolutely no means of filling that hole. Had it not been for stimulus money which Perry demagogued, Texas would have fallen off the financial cliff in 08. In 2010 with less stimulus money to work with the state slashed education funding to the point that school districts are now suing the state for failing to provide the constitutionally mandated funding for schools. Obama can be competetive in Texas because Texans have seen first hand how Perry governs--tax the middle class, slash benefits for the poor, and take good care of your cronies. This will be one election where democrats cannot afford to cede Texas to the republicans. White anglo saxon protestants are a minority here and if Perry is the nominee Texas is wide open for a competetive race, a very competetive race.

  • T2 on October 25, 2011 9:50 AM:

    "That giant state ain't votin' blue anytime soon, with or without cheating." Unless the Hispanic's start voting....but yeah, that won't happen soon, especially since Rick Perry rammed the Voter ID through.

  • sparky on October 25, 2011 10:08 AM:

    T2--
    As a Texas democrat i have to be something of an optomist. Perry and the republicans are giving hispanics plenty of reason to vote and Texas has a large hispanic population whose history predates the anglos. If Obama can motivate them, along with the sizable black population in rural east Texas and the cities, the school teachers who've seen close to 100,000 layoffs statewide, organized labor (yes, there are labor unions in Texas--I belong to one), and the unemployed recent college graduates, he can be competetive in Texas.
    Because of Texas' past history of voter supression the new voter ID law is being reviewed by DOJ and even if the republicans manage to disenfranchise a few legal voters that should be enough to piss of their friends and relatives and get them to the polls. Voter turn out will be the key, and like i said earlier, Rick Perry just ain't that popular in Texas.

  • DRF on October 25, 2011 10:11 AM:

    I was puzzled by Perry's comment that he wants rich people to have more money to invest. I've been under the impression that the problem with the economy now isn't the lack of available investment money--the banks and large corporations are sitting on huge amounts of cash--but that they aren't seeing sufficient demand for goods and services to justify investment.

    It would appear--no big surprise--that Perry is economically illiterate and doesn't have a clue what he's talking about.

  • AndThenThere'sThat on October 25, 2011 10:12 AM:

    Texas is wide open for a competetive race, a very competetive race.

    I'm sure you have your pulse on Texas better than I do from up here in Missouri. However, I will say this; Over the past 3 years, the rightwing wurlitzer has worked the hinterlands of Missouri into an absolute lather, and Ricky Bobby Perry is just the kind of good 'ol boy candidate they're looking for. He could promise to piss down the throats of each and every one of them, and they'd vote for him with twice the enthusiasm.

  • square1 on October 25, 2011 10:25 AM:

    There is no question that Perry's agenda is nuts. But let's put all the merits of his proposal to one side for a moment.

    Perry's proposal is the latest example of a fundamental difference between how Democrats and Republicans approach politics.

    Republicans have no qualms about proposing "bold" plans even if they are complete fantasies politically. Many of Perry's proposals, (e.g. flat-tax and balanced-budget amendment) are simply political non-starters. It wouldn't matter if they were the best ideas in the world. They aren't going to happen. But Republicans, like Perry, believe there is a political advantage to staking a clear position and defining yourself.

    OTOH, Democrats generally believe that it is politically harmful to support a position that you can't achieve. That it makes you look like a failure. So Democrats tend not to stick their necks out. Democrats -- and Obama is probably among the most extreme examples of this -- rarely take a position unless they can picture a successful endgame.

    Many liberals have criticized Obama for "pre-emptively capitulating". But, IMHO, one reason for this behavior is that President Obama always wants his initial policy proposal to be fairly close to the final outcome so that it looks like he got a "win".

    I will leave it to others to discuss which is the more effective political strategy and whether there are fundamental differences between the parties such that one strategy works better for one party than another.

  • DS on October 25, 2011 11:29 AM:

    We've already tried this. GIving money to the rich does not work. They have utterly failed in their responsibility to create new jobs and this is a major reason for the present "jobless recovery".

    This kind of wasteful Republican economic policy is merely throwing good money after bad.

  • beep52 on October 25, 2011 1:30 PM:

    More and more Republicans are talking like Sarah Palin.

    They string together hot-button words, interspersed with occasional pauses, but what emerges makes no sense. Small business, American family farmer, certainty... it never stops.

    Reminds me of the comedy sketch in which the audience knows all the jokes, so the comedian just tells punch lines and the audience rolls with laughter.

  • Mickey L Jones on October 26, 2011 7:49 AM:

    Perry just wants to make sure his rich cronies keep their money and get more! He doesn't give a crap about the "little people". Keep this idiot out of the White House!!! Send him back to his cotton fields where he might have to worry about making a living!!

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