If I were one of the reporters covering Rick Perry’s campaign travels, I’d try to make some news by asking: Do you still stand by your proposal in your book to repeal the 16th Amendment and replace the income tax with an alternative tax system? Do you still believe your book’s claim that 16th Amendment is “the great milestone on the road to serfdom?”
After all, Perry now appears to be distancing himself from some of the more controversial views in the book. His campaign spokesman, Ray Sullivan, is now backing off the book’s claim that Social Security may be unconstitutional, arguing that the book does not represent a roadmap for policy, but rather a look back at the past:
The book, Mr. Sullivan said, “is a look back, not a path forward.” It was written “as a review and critique of 50 years of federal excesses, not in any way as a 2012 campaign blueprint or manifesto,” Mr. Sullivan said...
In the book, Mr. Perry dings politicians who don’t have the courage to take on Social Security. So what is his position now? “The governor wants to see the benefits for existing retirees and those close to Social Security be strongly protected,” Mr. Sullivan said. Beyond that, “he believes a full review and discussion of entitlement reforms need to be had, aimed at seeing that programs like Social Security and Medicare are fiscally responsible and actuarially sound.”
The book, though, does in fact contain specific policy prescriptions on the income tax. In it, Perry declares that the 16th Amendment represents “the great milestone on the road to serfdom” because it represented “the birth of wealth redistribution in the United States.”
Perry clearly states that “we should restrict the unlimited source of revenue that the federal government has used to grow beyond its constitutionally prescribed powers.” How? Here’s what Perry suggests, in addition to scrapping the current tax code:
Another option would be to repeal the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution (providing the power for the income tax) altogether, and then pursue an alternative model of taxation such as a national sales tax or the Fair Tax.
I’ve been asking the Perry campaign since last week if he still supports this idea, and haven’t gotten an answer. Obviously the Perry campaign has better things to do than to answer this humble blog’s questions, but maybe other reporters might be able to nail down some clarification. After all, if the 16th Amendment represents “the great milstone on the road to serfdom” for the American people, you’d think he’d still harbor some strong views about it. The fact that he’s now backing off other controversial views in his book seems like a good hook to press the question.