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Rick Perry's tax plan attacked by ... Phyllis Schlafly?

Rick Perry
Postcards from the edge
Rick Perry has had a lot to be thankful for this week: namely, that he's not Herman Cain. Actually, I think that's pretty much the only thing Perry has to be thankful for right now, but let's face it, that's a lot.

Now Perry's tax plan is getting panned from a very unlikely source: the religious right. As you can imagine, it's not because his plan, like Cain's, is primarily just an avenue to provide massive tax cuts to the rich. Nor is it because his plan is layered onto the existing tax code in some strange attempt to pretend nothing is changing and everything is changing at the same time. No, this complaint is a bit odder, and comes from America's original Church Lady:

But Phyllis Schlafly, the religious-right icon who, like Perry, was featured at this year’s Values Voter Summit in Washington, says Perry’s plan fails on another measure: protection of marriage.

In an op-ed at Creators.com, the Eagle Forum founder tears into Perry’s flat-tax proposal which, she says, “would eliminate all tax advantages for married couples where one spouse is the primary breadwinner.”

Schlafly bristles at the possibility that, if Perry has his way, husbands and wives wouldn’t be allowed to file jointly, ending the deductions and other tax benefits married couples enjoy today. “Does Rick Perry want to undermine traditional marriage?” she asks, going on to dismiss his campaign’s message:

Perry’s spokesman told the Wall Street Journal, “We were very careful to construct this in a way that protects the middle class.” No. Giving that size deduction to unmarried parents, defined as “individuals and their dependents,” means rewarding bad behavior and is, by definition, outside the middle class. Regardless of income, you can’t be middle class without respecting middle-class values, the most important of which is marriage.

All righty then. So the problem is that it doesn't provide sufficient tax breaks for married couples. Worse still, it might insufficiently punish single parents for being single! It's anti-family! Evil! Satan!

Schlafly goes on to express alarm that homosexuals might also benefit from his plan, says that the "baby boom" was caused by serendipitous federal tax rates on joint filers, and is peeved that the Perry plan provides corporate tax breaks for overseas operations instead of the Cain and Santorum plans, which she says do a better job of cutting taxes here.

Aside from the obvious hilarity of Perry continuing to be hit by fellow conservatives for being insufficiently radical or for having radical views that will inconveniently oppose their own radical views, I suppose there are two things worth pointing out here. First, that "family values" sure encompasses a lot, including being an expert on corporate tax plans. And second, even arch-conservatives are very, very eager to use the tax code to promote "social engineering" and the like, even though the movement also claims that using the tax code to encourage or discourage particular things (say, energy choices) is very, very bad, and/or socialism, and/or communism, and/or ... I have no idea at this point. Take your pick.


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