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Neither will the 40 percent of lower-income Americans who now pay no income taxes.

To its credit, Mr. Perry’s plan calls for slashing government spending to 18 percent of GDP, but the bipartisan “supercommittee” can’t seem to agree on a $1.2 trillion deficit-cutting savings package, let alone the sizable spending cuts he’s called for.

There is much appeal to the flat income-tax idea among a lot of Americans who think it would insert fairness into our tax system, but the unmoving political reality is that it stands no chance of passing Congress, now or in the foreseeable future.

What can pass Congress is a full-scale overhaul of this monstrously complex, inefficient and inherently unfair tax code. A simplification plan is needed that would eliminate costly special-interest tax breaks and other loopholes, and lower tax rates accordingly.

Mitt Romney, the presumed front-runner, has proposed a far broader plan that calls for expanding trade, domestic energy and deregulation reforms, cutting corporate taxes to 25 percent, erasing capital gains taxes on incomes under $200,000 and ending the estate tax.

He’d keep the Bush income-tax rates for now, while developing a lower-tax rate-reform plan that can muster a majority on Capitol Hill.

Mr. Obama wrongly thought he could spend his way out of the recession by doling out borrowed tax dollars on parts of the economy; i.e., public-sector jobs and infrastructure projects here and there. He failed miserably.

The formula for growth and jobs is to free the economy from oppressive taxation and regulation and unlock trillions of dollars in private risk capital that is the lifeblood of a prosperous nation.

Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and former chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.