The Daily Gamecock

Texas Gov. Rick Perry unveils new 20 percent flat tax plan at Statehouse

S.C. Speaker Bobby Harrell also endorses GOP candidate

Republican presidential candidate and Texas Gov. Rick Perry swung by the Statehouse Tuesday afternoon to pick up an endorsement from S.C. Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell and to lay out his new plan for a flat 20 percent income tax.

After poor performance in television debates, Perry’s poll numbers have plummeted. His support for in-state tuition for children of illegal immigrants in Texas, coupled with controversial remarks such as his description of social security as a Ponzi scheme, cost him his brief position at the head of the GOP pack. Meanwhile, support for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the candidate with whom Perry was expected to hold a close rivalry, has held firm.

Endorsements such as Harrell may help Perry regain his footing in South Carolina’s all-important “First in the South” primary Jan. 21.

“Like Ronald Reagan, he is a man of his word,” Harrell said of his fellow Republican.

Harrell listed off all the classic conservative creeds — limited government, lower taxes and less regulation of business — and said Perry’s adherence to all of them helped create 1 million net new jobs in Texas.

“He will support all American workers, and not just union bosses,” Harrell said.

Though Texas has led the nation in job growth during Perry’s decade in office, job creation has not kept up with population growth. Texas has an 8.5 percent unemployment rate, higher than 27 other states.

After Harrell’s endorsement, Perry took the lectern to tout his flat income tax plan, dubbed “Cut, Balance and Grow.” He pulled out an envelope and said all the required information would fit on a postcard.

“I told Bobby, that’s so simple even [U.S. Treasury Secretary] Tim Geithner could get that right,” Perry quipped.  

Perry’s 20 percent flat income tax plan is only the newest numerical tax reform plan from a Republican presidential candidate. Former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has articulated a 15 percent flat income tax and businessman Herman Cain has a mixed 9-9-9 flat tax plan. A flat income tax would be much simpler than current tax codes, but the idea has been criticized for benefiting the wealthy at the expense of the poor.

Perry also said he supported a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

In a recent interview by Parade Magazine, Perry created controversy when he didn’t give a clear answer on whether he believed President Barack Obama was born in the United States. When asked about his remarks after the endorsement Tuesday, Perry once again dodged an answer.

“That is one of the biggest distractions, we need to be talking about jobs,” Perry said.

Several members of the now-combined Occupy Columbia and Charleston movements occupied the space behind media members during Perry’s speech, holding up their hands and waving their fingers to express silent approval or disapproval. Mostly, they were expressing disapproval.

Dillon Corbett, a third-year history student and member of the movement, said he disliked that Perry touted spending $400 million securing his state’s border with Mexico.

“I think that $400 million could do so much more good than imposing racist agendas,” Corbett said.

Though Corbett said he did not speak for the movement, he said his “general sense” was that most of his fellow protesters disagreed with Perry.