Simpsonville, S.C. — Texas Gov. Rick Perry, seeking to jump-start his GOP presidential campaign with a 20 percent flat tax, said “I don’t care” if his plan gives millions to wealthy Americans because he says it will accelerate economic growth.
Mr. Perry this morning will unveil what he calls his “Cut, Balance and Grow” plan at a pivotal point in the race for the Republican nomination. He rocketed to the top of the race after his late entry in August, then faded after weak performances in some early debates.
Developed with prominent Republican economic thinkers Steve Forbes and David Malpass, Mr. Perry’s plan would:
—Introduce a 20 percent flat rate on individual and corporate income, down from the current top rate of 35 percent.
—Provide an exemption of $12,500 per person, so that a family of four would face no tax on its first $50,000 in income.
—Preserve deductions for mortgage interest, charitable donations, and state and local taxes on incomes below $500,000.
—Allow anyone to file under the current system if they choose.
—Shift to a territorial system of corporate taxation, allowing corporations to repatriate profits still parked overseas at a 5.25 percent rate.
In an exclusive interview with CNBC, Mr. Perry was asked about the millions in tax benefits that would provide for wealthy taxpayers.
"I don't care about that," the governor replied. "What I care about is them having the dollars to invest in their companies, to go out and maybe start a business because they got the confidence again 'cause they actually get to keep more of what they work for.
“Those that want to get into the class warfare and talk about, oh my goodness, there are going to be some folks here who make more money out of this, or have access to more money, I'll let them do that.”
Concerning his nomination rival Mitt Romney, who has derided the flat tax in the past as a boon to “fat cats,” Mr. Perry said:
“Well I would said that he ought to go look in the mirror, I guess. I consider him to be a fat cat. I consider what Mitt's doing kind of nibbling around the edges. I consider what we're doing bold.”
Mr. Perry said he would combine those tax cuts with steps to reduce spending, such as raising the Social Security retirement age. He vowed that his plan would balance the federal budget by 2020.
Asked whether the loss of revenue would increase the deficit in the meantime, he said: "I'm looking long term. I'm looking to get this country back on track."
“If you're looking for somebody that's going to nibble around the edges, if you're looking for somebody that's going to say, ‘Hey listen we're not going to make it hard on you, it's all going to work it out, and it's just, you know, kumbaya,’ I'm not your guy."
Mr. Perry repeated his calls for repeal of the new Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill. Asked if he believes the regulatory system that existed before the 2008 financial crisis was adequate, Mr. Perry said, “Yes, absolutely, I think it was adequate. We had a bunch of regulators that weren't doing their job."
His message to Occupy Wall Street, the governor added is: “I hope what they will see is that America's a fabulous country and it gives them the opportunity to go say your piece, go protest on the street. But at the end of the day America's about having the opportunity to take care of your family.”
Asked what he would tell a middle-income member of the Tea Party about his plan for large tax cuts for top earners, he added, “I say to them that we want those people at the top to be investing in this country so that you have a chance to have a job. Because that's the way this country has always worked.”