The Little Bit of Big Government in Rick Perry's Tax Plan

More

The Texas governor's proposal is intended to be everything a conservative could want -- so it's telling that it preserves the mortgage interest deduction

Rick Perry energy speech - Keith Srakocic AP - banner.jpg

Kevin Drum aptly summed up Rick Perry's latest campaign proposal by noting that "it sounds less like a tax plan than a big ol' stew pot of right-wing applause lines." Take a look at it for yourself: "The plan starts with giving Americans a choice between a new, flat tax rate of 20% or their current income tax rate. The new flat tax preserves mortgage interest, charitable and state and local tax exemptions for families earning less than $500,000 annually, and it increases the standard deduction to $12,500 for individuals and dependents," Perry explains in the Wall Street Journal. "My plan also abolishes the death tax once and for all... we will eliminate the tax on Social Security benefits....We will eliminate the tax on qualified dividends and long-term capital gains..."

Can I confess something? I don't care whether you love or hate the plan. I just want to point out one grating component. After months of the conservative rank-and-file insisting that the financial crisis was caused mostly by the government, and its anti-free market subsidies that brought about a housing bubble, it's noteworthy and disappointing that a red meat candidate doing his utmost to please the base includes in his "flat tax" the preservation of the mortgage interest deduction.

He's proposing to radically change the whole system. It's his proposal, so he can set rates however he likes. And despite that, he's maintaining a status quo deduction that distorts the real estate market, acts as an incentive for Americans to invest in more housing, and does the most to benefit affluent homeowners in pricey urban enclaves. Take that you dirty, rotten apartment dwellers!

I get it. Homeowners love the mortgage interest deduction. And they also vote in large numbers. Thus the redistribution of wealth to this special interest group. Just so long as the Tea Partiers supporting this guy recognize this aspect of his tax plan for the big government, anti-free-market folly that it is.

Image credit: Reuters

Jump to comments
Presented by

Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

A Delightful, Pixar-Inspired Cartoon About the Toys in Your Cereal Box

The story of an action figure and his reluctant sidekick, who trek across a kitchen in search of treasure.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Juice Cleanses: The Worst Diet

A doctor tries the ever-popular Master Cleanse. Sort of.

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Video

What If Emoji Lived Among Us?

A whimsical ad imagines what life would be like if emoji were real.

Video

Living Alone on a Sailboat

"If you think I'm a dirtbag, then you don't understand the lifestyle."

Feature

The Future of Iced Coffee

Are artisan businesses like Blue Bottle doomed to fail when they go mainstream?

Writers

Up
Down

More in Politics

Just In