Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) defended his flat tax plan on Fox News Sunday, pushing back on questions from host Chris Wallace about the proposal’s economic consequences.
“There’s nothing wrong with lower revenue,” the presidential candidate said of his flat tax’s lower returns. “I don’t want more revenue in Washington D.C.’s hands.”
Perry argued that under his plan, the dynamic economic growth spurred by his tax cuts would more than offset the lower revenue, leading to a balanced budget by 2020. (The Perry campaign has deflected questions on its growth projections, which are far above the Congressional Budget Office baseline.)
As for criticisms of the complexity of the plan — taxpayers can choose either the old system or the new flat tax — Perry was dismissive. “I think most Americans know right off the top of their heads they’re going to take the 20 percent flat tax,” he said. “If some Americans want to contact an accountant, that’s their business.”
The wealthy would invest significantly more with a flatter tax code, Perry said, explaining that was why he said he didn’t care if the rich got a bigger break under his plan.
“Historically those who have money put more into their businesses, they hire more people,” he said. “That’s what we need to focus on.” He repeatedly responded to questions about growing income inequality by saying he was “not interested in class warfare.”
But Perry promised he would also drastically cut spending to help balance the budget, pointing to Republican Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn’s “Back in Black” proposal of $9 trillion in cuts as inspiration. When pressed to give a specific example, Perry suggested combining elementary and middle school oversight in the Department of Education, which would save $25 billion.
Perry seemed unprepared for a question on his first campaign ad, in which he promised to create 2.5 million new jobs. Wallace pointed out that “with 2.5 million new jobs, the unemployment rate would increase,” and compared the pledge unfavorably to President Jimmy Carter’s 10.5 million created jobs.
“I don’t believe that for a minute,” Perry said. “That is just absolutely false on its face.” He said that if “you give this plan a chance... jobs will come back to this country,” and that no “intellectual discussion” could change that.
The governor appeared more comfortable when criticizing President Obama, who he said “has lost his standing as a commander-in-chief who has any idea what's going on” in Iraq and Afghanistan, and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who he said was “very, very different from the standpoint of consistency.”
But Perry also said he had “changed my position” on something — government loans for energy companies, which he courted a few years ago for a Texas nuclear project.