(Brian C. Frank/Reuters )
Reporting from Gray Court, S.C. — Returning to South Carolina, a state key to reviving his presidential candidacy, Gov. Rick Perry unveiled what he said was a “bold” tax plan to revive the nation’s economy.
The Texas governor, speaking at the warehouse of a specialty plastics company south of Greenville, proposed a flat tax plan that critics said would worsen the federal deficit.
Perry’s plan includes an optional 20% flat tax for individuals and corporations. But he would allow anyone to remain with the current tax system, insuring that no one’s taxes would go up and threatening to cut federal revenue by hundreds of billions of dollars a year.
In an interview, Perry said he wasn’t concerned that his plan could provide a windfall for the wealthiest Americans—whose tax bite on capital gains and dividends would be slashed to zero.
“I don’t care about that,” he told CNBC. “What I care about is them having the dollars to invest in their companies.”
Peter Morici, a conservative economist at the University of Maryland, said the plan “falls short in two important respects: It won't encourage many better investment decisions and foster growth, and it will spin the federal deficit permanently into the stratosphere.”
A more aggressive performance in the most recent debate and his announcement of an oil-themed jobs plan have, thus far, failed to halt Perry’s steep decline in the polls. A new CBS News survey, released Tuesday, showed him a distant fifth, with just 6%.
In South Carolina, the first Southern primary state, Perry has fallen far behind the leaders, Mitt Romney and Herman Cain, according to a recent NBC News/Marist survey.
Glenn McCall, the Republican national committeeman from South Carolina, said Perry’s failure to put in more campaign time has hurt him. At the same time, his support for in-state tuition for children of illegal immigrants is alienating conservatives, who will dominate the Jan. 21 presidential primary.
“He’s going to have to get on a bus and travel the state,” said McCall, who is neutral in the nomination contest. “Just flying in and flying out” to make a policy announcement, as Perry was doing Tuesday, “doesn’t sit well with the voters of South Carolina.”
The governor announced his candidacy in South Carolina but hasn’t campaigned in the state since late August.