Rick Perry to announce flat tax as part of economic plan


Republican presidential candidates, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, left, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, speak during a Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas. (Chris Carlson/AP)

LAS VEGAS—The day after a combative debate performance that Rick Perry hopes will put new energy into his lethargic presidential campaign, the Texas governor offered up the outline of something else that has been missing thus far: a comprehensive plan to rehabilitate the economy.

In an arm-waving speech before the Western Republican Leadership Conference here, Perry previewed the broad outline of a plan that he said he will present in six days. Among its features, he promised, will be spending cuts, entitlement reform, and a flat tax.

“I want to make the tax code so simple that evenTimothy Geithner can file his taxes on time,” Perry said, a reference to the embarrassment that complicated the Obama treasury secretary’s confirmation in 2009.

In his appearance before about 200 GOP activists in a showroom at the Venetian hotel and casino, Perry kept most of his criticism trained on President Obama, whose “Keynesian politics will hopefully never, ever be tried again,” he said. “We can’t grow the bureaucracy in order to grow the economy.”

But Perry did manage to get in a few digs at his chief Republican rival, though he did not mention former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by name.

“I am not the candidate of the establishment,” Perry said in what was a clear reference to Romney, who has not yet won the hearts of the party base. That is in part because many conservatives do not trust Romney’s record, which in the past included more moderate positions on social issues.

“You won’t hear a lot of shape-shifting nuance from me,” Perry vowed. “I’m going to give the American people a big heaping helping of unbridled truth.”

And as he has throughout the campaign, Perry emphasized the Texas economy, which has been more robust than that in much of the rest of the country.

The party’s best choice for 2012 would be “a really clear contrast with our current president,” Perry said, and “a governor with the best jobs creation record in America.”

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Karen Tumulty is a national political correspondent for The Washington Post, where she received the 2013 Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting.

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