Pence Talks Economy, Flat Tax

Rep. Mike Pence (R., Indiana) delivered a wide-ranging speech today at the Detroit Economic Club, offering a series of policy prescriptions to restore economic growth and prosperity. His ideas included instituting a flat tax, limiting federal spending to 20 percent of GDP, and … allowing Americans to tweet their taxes to the IRS.

In the course of the speech, Pence slammed TARP (“It was wrong to take $700 billion from Main Street to bailout bad decisions on Wall Street”), spoke out against the Fed’s quantitative easing (“And while there is no guarantee that this policy will succeed in reducing unemployment, it is near certain that the value of the dollar will be diluted. As economist Larry Kudlow says, ‘the Fed can print more money, but it can’t print jobs.’”), and touted the benefits of free trade (“Encouraging free trade lowers barriers to entry for our goods, and that in turn allows U.S. companies to create more jobs. Protectionism and closing our doors to other countries does not help us, or people in the rest of the world.”).

Talking about the benefits of a simpler tax system, Pence said, “How about a system where could file your taxes on a Blackberry, or a system where you might even be able to file a return with 140 characters or less?  How would you like to tweet your taxes?”

“I believe it is time that America adopted a flat tax and scrapped the current system once and for all,” Pence said. Later in the speech, he elaborated on his support: “The flat tax eliminates all of the credits and deductions and special preferences and tax loopholes that Congress and an army of lobbyists have built into the tax code over time. These fuel special interests and generally benefit one person, business or industry over another. Our tax system should not pick winners and losers, but should treat every business, small and large, with the same basic rules.”

The speech ended with a reflection on free market dynamism. “The problem with our economy today is that, after years of runaway spending and growth of government under both political parties, America is on that wall between West and East,” Pence said, referring to the difference between free market economies and government-run ones. “No longer the vibrant free market that built cities like Detroit but not yet overtaken by the policies that have engulfed Europe in a sea of debt and mediocrity. To restore American economic exceptionalism, we have to decide that we believe in it again and turn and pursue a free market economy again with all our hearts.”

Pence may not have announced a run for 2012, but this speech sure makes it appear that he’s considering it seriously.

Katrina Trinko — Katrina Trinko is a political reporter for National Review. Trinko is also a member of USA TODAY’S Board of Contributors, and her work has been published in various media outlets ...

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