LAKEWOOD, COLO.—The University of Texas sports fan weblog Burnt Orange Nation put it best about Rick Perry in a September 2011 post about conference re-alignment: "Rick Perry? Seriously? The guy who bombed his way through college and couldn't get an A in Cow Parts 101 if you spotted him everything but the udder?"
For the record, Perry got a D in Principles of Economics at Texas A&M. This explains his term paper on the flat tax that he's trying to pass off as an economics plan. It is trickle-down economics at its most trickle-y: the fervent hope that if you give rich people more money, they will magically share.
Perry doesn't even bother with the political fig leaf that our tax system ought to be fair, telling New York Times/CNBC's John Harwood we should do away with a progressive tax system. When Harwood asked about the potential income inequality that would follow, Perry replied, "I don't care about that." At least Perry is honest in his nostalgia for feudalism.
For his model, just look at Texas. His policies have resulted in a lot of working poor people, and a few rich people with access to the crony capitalism that sustains them. The Guardian newspaper spent a morning in line at an Austin food bank and found many of the people waiting for groceries were on their way to work at jobs that didn't make ends meet.
According to The Guardian, "Texas—rich in so many things—is overflowing with poverty. One in seven Texans are on food stamps. Latest census bureau figures show more than one in six Texans are living below the poverty line. The state also has the sixth-highest rate of child poverty in America, at almost one in four children. In healthcare the figures are also shocking. More than a quarter of Texans are uninsured."
A flat tax proposal like Perry's is inherently unfair for this simple reason: A dollar is a lot to man who doesn't have one. A 20 percent tax rate with no deductions means nothing to Kim Kardashian. It means a lot to a teacher making $40,000 a year. The further up the income line you go, the tax break exponentially gets bigger. Perry's proposal is a gift to the wealthy at the expense of the middle class.
Meanwhile, President Obama has cut taxes for middle class Americans. It's a simple equation: you support the economy by putting money in the hands of the people who will spend it on a daily basis. That's real working Americans who buy cars and groceries and consumer goods, not trust-funders.
And we don't even need to get into his frat boy towel snap reviving the 'birther' issue. Perry thinks it's funny, but it's his economic plan that's the real joke on middle class Americans.