Perry plan makes flat tax optional

Proposes spending cap at 1966 levels

At root, Republicans argue that a cleaner tax code will remove a major drag on the economy, freeing Americans to spend and invest.

Democrats say the entire conversation on the Republican side is tilted toward the rich.

“Governor Perry and Governor Romney’s tax plans are guided by the same principle: They would shift a greater share of taxes away from large corporations and the wealthiest onto the backs of the middle class,” Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said Tuesday afternoon. “The belief that middle-class Americans will benefit if we just give another special break to those at the top was long ago discredited.”

Republicans, meanwhile, say that by putting out specifics Mr. Perry will now face the same sort of scrutiny that Mr. Cain has faced over his signature 9-9-9 tax plan.

The reviews started to trickle in before Mr. Perry had finished speaking Tuesday morning.

Peter Morici, former chief economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission, warned that the Perry proposal “will not jump-start the economy and is fiscally irresponsible.”

By giving taxpayers the option to continue to file under the current system, wealthy individuals will continue to forage for tax breaks, and the lower-income individuals who currently pay nothing will continue to pay nothing, Mr. Morici said. The result: Federal revenues will plummet and the federal deficit will spin “permanently into the stratosphere.”

But Chris Chocola, president of the Club for Growth, an influential fiscal conservative group, praised the plan, saying it would “unleash years of economic growth if it is passed into law.”

Perry clearly understands that revitalizing the economy should start with a complete overhaul of a tax code that has nearly choked economic growth to death,” he said, warning that Mr. Romney would be wise to follow suit.

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