Back when they were teaching gun safety to my generation, there was a term for people who ran or jogged while carrying a loaded weapon. The term was "idiot." And back when we were learning basic geometry they had a book called Flatland that told a story set in a two-dimensional world. It was a place where everything was flattened and the people had no depth.
Welcome to Rick Perry's Flatland.
As Robert Borosage notes, Perry jogs with a handgun and reportedly shot a coyote that threatened his dog. Typical Republican overkill: You can scare off a coyote by throwing rocks at it. And speaking of overkill, the gun-totin' candidate's new flat tax proposal looks like a desperation move, a way to win some attention back from Herman Cain's headline-grabbing economic proposal.
"9-9-9," meet "SOS."
The political types tell us that a flat tax proposal makes for easy the messaging. It's simple, different, and it promises immediate relief from something most people hate (filling out tax forms). Hmm ... simple, different, and promises immediate relief. You know what else fits that description? Jumping off a bridge.
There's been a lot of commentary on the flat tax's policy implications. But what would the country look like a few years from now if it were enacted? Let's pretend that the entire country has jumped off a bridge by electing Rick Perry, and as a result we're all living in a place you might call "Flatland USA."
Let's take a look around our new home.
In Flatland USA, President Rick Perry was swept into office on a wave of disaffection over unemployment and stagnating wages. When Perry's flat tax became law in 2013,corporate tax revenues plunged. Conservatives love to complain that the official corporate tax rate for the United States is "the second highest in the developed world," as Perry put it when he announced his plans. (Our official tax rate is 35 percent, second only to Japan.) But corporations have so many loopholes, and such smart tax lawyers, that the average rate they really pay today is only 13.4 percent. That's less than the average for industrialized countries, which is 16 percent.
In Flatland USA, Perry's flat tax lowered the top rate but didn't get rid of the loopholes. (I'm making that assumption because Perry wrote today that "Cut, Balance and Grow also phases out corporate loopholes and special-interest tax breaks to provide a level playing field for employers of all sizes." In plain English, that bureacrat-speak means "Corporations will get an even bigger tax break now, and we'll fix all those other loopholes ... someday." And you know what? Someday never comes.)
Anybody remember "Wimpy," the old freeloader from the Popeye cartoons? "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today," he'd say. In Rick Perry's Flatland, Tuesday never comes - and his tax plan is "wimpy" on corporations.
The loss of corporate taxes in Flatland starved the government of the revenue it needed to provide basic services.
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