LAS VEGAS – Texas Gov. Rick Perry said he would propose a federal flat tax next week as part of a fiscal plan, a move to try to elevate him above the rest of the Republican presidential field on an issue popular with the party’s base.
Perry told an audience of Republican activists from western states that he wanted to “scrap the 3 million words of the current tax code and start with something simple: a flat tax. I want to make the tax code so simple that even [Treasury Secretary] Timothy Geithner can file his taxes on time.”
He also said his plan would advocate “serious” spending cuts and pledged to “barnstorm” the nation as president to ensure passage of a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.
The move comes after pizza tycoon Herman Cain surged to the first tier of contenders in the race with his "9-9-9" tax proposal, which woudl replace the existing system with a 9 percent wage tax, a 9 percent corporate tax, and a 9 percent national sales tax.
In remarks to the Western Republican Leadership Conference here, Perry also picked up where he left off in Tuesday night’s debate, throwing elbows at Mitt Romney, though he did not mention his rival’s name. Perry said he was not the establishment’s candidate, in contrast to He Who Shall Not Be Named.
“The American people are not going to trim around the edges when it comes to 2012: They are going to turn Washington inside out,” Perry said. “Let me share with you one thing. I am not the candidate of the establishment. You won’t hear a lot of shape-shifting nuance from me. I am going to give the American people a huge big old helping of unbridled truth — that we can’t continue to spend what we are spending, that we can’t avoid entitlement reform because we are afraid of the third rail of politics.”
Though he has fallen in the polls after a fast start as a conservative champion for the anti-Romney crowd, Perry said that pundits and the GOP establishment are writing him off too early. “Primary and caucus voters did not get the memo,” he said.