Rick Perry said during Tuesday night’s debate that he was on the verge of releasing his economic-growth plan. In a speech Wednesday, the Texas governor said it’s coming early next week — and, according to a report in the Weekly Standard, it includes “major tax reform, entitlement reform, a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, an abolishment of earmarks, and a recommitment to energy exploration in the United States.”
[Perry's] plan “starts with scrapping the three million words of the current tax code — starting over with something simple: a flat tax.”
“I want to make the tax code so simple that even Timothy Geithner can file his taxes on time,” the Texas governor said, taking a jab at the treasury secretary who had major errors in his tax returns that were revealed after he was nominated by President Barack Obama for his present job.
“The second part of my plan involves the serious commitment to spending, realizing alternatives” to the path taken by Europe, Perry said. In this vein, the Texas governor went on to affirm his commitment to “reforming entitlements, preserving those commitments to those who are on Social Security…and those approaching the age of retirement.”
Details about what kind of flat tax and how exactly Perry would reform entitlements are TBA. It would have been nice to have those details before Tuesday’s debate. On the other hand, given the pummeling Herman Cain got for the specifics of his 9-9-9 plan, one can understand why Perry wouldn’t have been eager to release his own plan beforehand.
With some $15 million in the bank, Perry can use the month between now and the next debate to roll out, explain and promote his plan. Longer than that, really: The next debate will be about foreign policy, so his plan won’t get debate-style group scrutiny on that occasion.
Entitlement reform, which ranks ahead of even tax reform in terms of urgency, has gone largely unaddressed by the other candidates. If Perry can seize on that issue with an attractive plan, and if he can combine it with a robust energy plan (which ought to be a strength for the Texan), and if he presents a flat tax that’s even simpler than Cain’s 9-9-9, he still stands a chance of regaining the lead among the anti-Romneys in the race.
Of course, for now, that amounts to three big if’s about a still-unknown plan.
– By Kyle Wingfield