Steve Forbes on Rick Perry’s flat tax plan: ‘I’m elated!’

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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As you might have heard, Texas Governor Rick Perry is planning to come out with a flat tax proposal next week. The plan hasn’t even been finalized, but it already has at least one big backer.

“I’m elated by it,” Steve Forbes told me. “And I think Governor Perry will surge ahead of Herman Cain,” he said.

“Herman Cain gets credit of realizing the [current tax] code has to go [but] the virtue of what Governor Perry is doing is that he does not bring in a sales tax,” he said.

In 1996, Forbes popularized the issue in the United States, running for president with a flat income tax as his signature issue.

Forbes stressed that Perry’s plan isn’t complete — that he’s still “tweaking” it. But Forbes indicated Perry’s plan would be similar to the one Forbes proposed in 1996  — which called for no income taxes on families until they hit $36,000 of yearly income. (After earning that amount, they would then pay a flat 17 percent tax on additional income.)

“I think the same principle will be at work with Governor Perry. The rate they are still tweaking, but the concept will be the same,” he said.

Forbes says the exemptions for people making below $36,000 (or whatever the new number is) are important, “so you don’t hit people with low incomes.”

Regarding the flat tax concept, Forbes said it’s an idea whose time has come. “The idea — even though it has been a while coming in the U.S. — has been gaining traction around the world, ranging in size from Albania to Russia,” Forbes said. “So we’re catching up with the rest of the world.”

Forbes also mocked Mitt Romney’s 59-point plan, saying: “I heard one person say, hey, Moses had only 10.”

Matt K. Lewis