Perry frames his tax plan as a needed jolt for the economy

Rick Perry laid out a sweeping overhaul to the nation's tax code, entitlements and way of budgeting Tuesday, calling it the bold approach needed to shake the economy out if its current slump.

"Those who oppose it, they're going to wrap themselves in the cloak of status quo," Perry told an audience in Columbia, S.C.

The speech was Perry's first public chance to try on his new economic plan, details of which have seeped out over the past few days.

Perry is calling for an optional 20 percent flat tax, a privatized option for Social Security and a hike in the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare. He's also demanding a regulatory freeze and a balanced-budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

"Central to my plan is getting every American the option of throwing out that 3 million words of the current tax code, and I might add the cost of complying with all of that code, in order to pay a 20 percent flat tax on their income," he said.

As Perry spoke, he gestured to a pile of file boxes stacked four high, representing all of the pages in the U.S. tax code. Then he held up a postcard-sized single sheet of paper.

"Taxpayers will be able to fill this out and file their taxes on that," Perry said.

Another Republican presidential candidate who has promised voters their tax returns would fit on a postcard is Herman Cain, whose well known flat-tax plan has become the natural point of comparison for Perry's.

Perry alluded to Cain's plan and other multipronged proposals put forth by the GOP candidates, calling them "microwaved plans with warmed-over reforms based on current ingredients."

But while Perry's plan checks of all the boxes that the business community is likely looking for, including regulatory relief and lower taxes, Perry framed his proposal as a populist approach to keeping corporations honest, arguing that a simpler tax code is harder to cheat.

"We'll shut down the cottage industry of corporate tax evasion by creating a tax that is broad and fair and low," he said.