Perry to call for flat tax in economic plan

LAS VEGAS — Rick Perry will advocate a broad overhaul of the tax code based on a flat tax when he unveils his economic growth package one week from now, he told activists Wednesday at the Western Republican Leadership Conference.

Perry took to the stage in a full-speed jog, his fists clenched, instead of strolling leisurely into place, seeming to underscore the high-voltage intensity he directed at Mitt Romney during the GOP debate the night before.

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Perry didn't reveal the details of his plan or how it would compare to Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan to set federal income, sales and corporate taxes all at 9 percent. But he did say it would include a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution and a permanent end to all earmarks.

"I want to make the tax code so simple that even Timothy Geithner can file his taxes on time," the Texas governor said, trying out a new barb against the treasury secretary, who faced tax problems during his confirmation.

But it was environmental regulations that took the brunt of Perry's jabs Wednesday in Las Vegas.

"America has this proven but untapped, amazing supply of natural gas, of oil, of coal," he said. "America is the Saudi Arabia of coal."

Perry blamed the Environmental Protection Agency for prohibiting domestic energy production and said that Americans who live in areas with natural resources should be trusted to protect the environment, not the EPA.

"They care more about the water and the air that their children breathe, that their children are going to breathe, than some bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.," he said.

Perry said on his first days in office, he would reverse Department of Interior rules, open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and work to increase fossil fuel production.

Perry's campaign sees his record of job creation in Texas as his best footing for arguing he's the candidate who can restore economic growth. But his almost singular focus on domestic energy in recent weeks has fallen largely on deaf ears, especially among moderate Republicans and independents concerned about protecting the environment and securing sustainable solutions for U.S. energy needs.