On Perry’s “Flat Tax”

by Ramesh Ponnuru

At Bloomberg View, I argue that Perry’s plan suggests that a politically palatable flat tax can’t be produced:

If you were designing a tax code from scratch, you wouldn’t come up with anything as convoluted and inefficient as our current system. But if you were trying to improve the tax code, you wouldn’t come up with Perry’s plan, either. You’d only come up with it if you started with the imperative to propose something you could call a “flat tax” and then modified it as you went along to protect yourself politically.

Within those constraints, Perry’s plan makes perfect sense. An optional flat tax is politically safer than a mandatory one. A flat tax that keeps the biggest deductions is safer still.

It’s just that the result makes little sense. . .

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