Rick Perry’s campaign is now distancing him from another controversial claim in his book: That we should repeal the 16th Amendment and replace it with a “Fair Tax,” a radical idea that’s still rattling around in some precincts on the right.
Perry’s book, published in the fall of 2010, offered a range of policy prescriptions to deal with the problems he thinks are associated with the income tax. He proposed two alternatives: The first was to scrap the current tax code in favor of a “flat tax” to make taxation “simpler, easier to follow, and harder to manipulate.”
The second, more controversial, proposal Perry advanced in the book was to “repeal the 16th Amendment” and “then pursue an alternative model of taxation such as a national sales tax or the Fair Tax.” He called the 16th Amendment “the great milestone on the road to serfdom” because it represented “the birth of wealth redistribution in the United States.”
Asked whether Perry still stands behind those latter views, the campaign responded with a statement that only voices diluted support for the first set of proposals, and even seems to concede that the radical level of change envisioned in his book is a nonstarter, at least in the near term. Perry spokesman Mark Miner emails:
The 16th Amendment instituting a federal income tax starting at one percent has exploded into onerous, complex and confusing tax rates and rules for American workers over the last century. The need for job creation in the wake of the explosion of federal debt and costly entitlement programs, mean the best course of action in the near future is a simpler, flatter and broader tax system that unleashes production, creates jobs, and creates more taxpayers. We can’t undo more than 70 years of progressive taxation and worsening debt obligations overnight.
This clearly represents a distancing of Perry from his book’s proposals. The campaign is declining to reaffirm his support for repeal of the 16th Amendment or for the so-called “Fair Tax” or the national sales tax. As Brian Beutler explains, these are highly regressive policies that most Republicans don’t support — and as Steve Benen adds, they underscore a truly radical view of how limited the Federal government should be.
By contrast, the Perry campaign is restating his support only for the first set of proposals for a “flatter” tax system, which is more in line with mainstream Republican opinion.
This is the second time the Perry camp has distanced him from his own book’s assertions. Yesterday the campaign clarified that his book’s suggestion that Social Security might be unconstitutional did not reflect Perry’s current views or his prescription for the program’s future.