Presidential hopeful Perry retreats again from statements made in his book

The campaign of Texas governor and GOP presidential hopeful Rick Perry is being hounded by statements he has made.

The Perry campaign on Monday was, once again, trying to distance itself from another policy prescription in Perrys book, Fed Up!, which was released last year.

In the book, Perry argues that the federal government should repeal the 16th Amendment — which grants Congress wide leeway to levy income taxes — and institute instead a flat tax that would tax all Americans at the same rate, regardless of income.

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But a Perry spokesman conceded Monday that dramatic income tax reform was likely a non-starter, according to The Washington Post. The campaign declined to reaffirm support for the repeal of the 16th Amendment or the passage of a flat or national sales tax, despite continuing to assert that the current tax code is onerous, complex and confusing.

The need for job creation in the wake of the explosion of federal debt and costly entitlement programs means the best course of action in the near future is a simpler, flatter and broader tax system that unleashes production, creates jobs and creates more taxpayers, Perry spokesman Mark Miner said. We can’t undo more than 70 years of progressive taxation and worsening debt obligations overnight.

The idea of a flat or fair tax has been a highly controversial proposal championed by Tea Party and libertarian lawmakers. Under the proposal, the federal government would implement a 23 percent national retail sales tax, but cease collecting income taxes. At a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on the proposal last month, many Democrats were highly critical of the plan, arguing it increased the tax burden for low- and middle-class families.

“I think it is absolutely — what should I say? — inappropriate, to be charitable, to call this a fair taxation proposal,” said Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.).

The Perry campaign has distanced itself repeatedly from controversial passages in the book since Perry declared his candidacy Aug. 13.

Perry wrote of Social Security that it was created “at the expense of respect for the Constitution and limited government.” He likened the program to “a Ponzi scheme” and claimed Social Security was “a crumbling monument to the failure of the New Deal.”

Again, a Perry spokesman walked the governor back from what he had written.

The book was meant as “a review and critique of 50 years of federal excesses, not in any way as a 2012 campaign blueprint or manifesto,” and should be considered as “a look back, not a path forward,” Perry spokesman Ray Sullivan told The Wall Street Journal last Thursday.

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