Perry’s chances of winning the Republican nomination depend entirely on his ability to sell himself as a Teastablishment candidate. Perry has a ten-year record in Texas that shows an interest in governance, and he has way with sharp rhetoric (“treason”) that sends thrills up the leg of your average Tea Partier.
He’s a base-hugging right-winger that the GOP Brooks Brothers set can feel more comfortable supporting than, say, Michele “Libya Not In Africa” Bachmann or the gay-bashing, protectionist-sympathizer Rick Santorum.
After a series of increasingly bad debates, Perry’s “Tea” half of the portmanteau fled to Herman Cain, whose plain-spoken style and business acumen seemed like a good substitute for Perry’s barbs and Texas job stats. Cain’s promise of throwing out the tax code and replacing it with three 9 percent taxes on income and consumption is exactly the sort of pitchfork wielding plan that appeals to Tea Partiers.
Unfortunately, Cain’s plan is also one of the worst ideas ever pitched in a campaign. The Tax Policy Center estimates that it will raise taxes on more than 80 percent of Americans. You can probably guess the income brackets of those 80 percent. In fact, those making between $10,000 and $20,000 would see their taxes hiked by 950 percent. So now, Cain supporters are checking out who else is still at the bar (you may have noticed the increasing drumbeat of “Newt Gingrich ain’t dead” stories).
This week, Perry turned in a not-awful debate performance and seems to have stopped his free-fall. Now he’s making a naked appeal for Cain’s 9-9-9 base by proposing a flat tax that will likely come with a healthy standard deduction to shield the poor and middle class from being destroyed. Perry’s pitch in the next debate: “Herman, brother, the answer to 9-9-9 is 17 and zero. 17 percent on everything over $36,000. Zero on everything below. You say three numbers is simple, well, I have two.”
The Rick Perry comeback begins today.