Political Headlines April 5, 2013: White House Budget President Barack Obama will Unveil Nest Week to Include Social Security Cuts

White House Budget to Include Social Security Cuts


White House officials say the budget President Obama will unveil next week will include proposed cuts to Medicare — by increasing premiums for wealthier retirees — and Social Security — by reducing annual cost of living increases.

The proposals themselves are not new; they were part of the ill-fated offer Obama made to Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, during the December negotiations over the fiscal cliff, but they are now part of the official White House budget.  It’s a change that will open the president up to criticism from liberals and put pressure on Republicans to offer a response….READ MORE

Full Text Campaign Buzz September 21, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech to the AARP Convention —




Obama Slams Romney’s Medicare Plan to AARP

Source: ABC News Radio, 9-21-12


Appealing to senior voters, President Obama today defended his Medicare and social security policies, while claiming his opponents would slash the popular entitlement programs to give tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans.

“There’s a lot of talk about Medicare and Social Security that hasn’t been completely on the level over the last several months,” the president told an AARP convention via satellite. “Here is what you need to know: I have strengthened Medicare as president.”…READ MORE

Remarks by the President to AARP Convention via Satellite

Source: WH, 9-21-12 

G. Richard Pfitzner Stadium
Woodbridge, Virginia

11:18 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Jane. (Applause.) Thank you, AARP. (Applause.) I want to thank Barry, and the entire AARP, for everything you do on behalf of America’s seniors. (Applause.)

And today is especially poignant for me I think because I can’t help to think about my grandmother, Madelyn Dunham. During World War II, she worked on a bomber assembly line, with a baby at home, while her husband was off serving his country. And in the postwar years, she worked her way from a secretary to vice president at her local bank. And later, she helped raise my mother, and then obviously helped raise me and my sister.

She was a great citizen who lived up to her responsibilities. And after a lifetime of hard work, what she hoped for in return was to be able to live out her golden years with dignity and security, and to see her grandchildren and her great grandchildren have a better life.

And she was fiercely independent, so she didn’t want a lot of help from me or anybody else. She just wanted to make sure that the work she had put in was going to pay off. And I’m thinking a lot about her these days because we lost my grandmother three days before I was elected to this office, back in 2008. But rewarding those hopes that she and so many other Americans shared — restoring the basic bargain that says if you work hard, that work will pay off — is one of the reasons I ran for this office in the first place. The values that she taught me are part of what has driven me over the last four years

Now, we’ve come a long way, but we’re not there yet. And that’s why I’m asking you for a second term as President. (Applause.)

There’s been a lot of talk about Medicare and Social Security in this campaign, as there should be. And these are bedrock commitments that America makes to its seniors, and I consider those commitments unshakeable. But given the conversations that have been out there in the political arena lately, I want to emphasize Medicare and Social Security are not handouts. (Applause.) You’ve paid into these programs your whole lives. You’ve earned them. And as President, it’s my job to make sure that Medicare and Social Security remain strong for today’s seniors and for future generations.

It probably won’t surprise you, though, that there’s a lot of talk about Medicare and Social Security that hasn’t been completely on the level over the last several months. So here’s what you need to know:

I have strengthened Medicare as President. (Applause.) We’ve added years to the life of the program by getting rid of taxpayer subsidies to insurance companies that weren’t making people healthier. And we used those savings to lower prescription drug costs, and to offer seniors on Medicare new preventive services like cancer screenings and wellness services.

In fact, the health reform law we passed has already saved more than 5.5 million seniors and people with disabilities nearly $4.5 billion on their prescription drugs. (Applause.) Seniors who received a discount have saved an average of more than $600 this year alone. And over the next 10 years, we expect the average Medicare beneficiary to save nearly $5,000 as a result of this law.

Now, my opponents have pledged to repeal these savings and benefits in their first day on the job, which means billions in new profits for insurance companies, but also would mean immediately increased costs for seniors and would bankrupt the Medicare trust fund in just four years. And what would they replace it with? Their plan replaces guaranteed Medicare benefits with a voucher that wouldn’t keep up with costs.

And when they tell you that their plan lets you keep your doctor, they’re leaving out one thing — and that’s the facts. A new study says that under their plan, if just 5 percent of seniors switch to private plans, 40 percent of doctors who currently take Medicare would stop accepting it. So think about that. Millions of seniors would be forced to change doctors.

I don’t consider this approach bold or particularly courageous, I just think it’s a bad idea. No American should ever spend their golden years at the mercy of insurance companies. They should retire with the care and the dignity that they have earned. (Applause.)

Now, we do have to reform and strengthen Medicare for the long haul, but we’re going to do it by reducing the costs of care — not by asking seniors to pay thousands of dollars more while we’re giving millionaires and billionaires a massive new tax cut. (Applause.)

And when it comes to Social Security, we’ve got to keep the promise of Social Security by taking responsible steps to strengthen it, not by turning it over to Wall Street. (Applause.) The last time the other side was in charge, my opponent’s running mate wrote a bill that would have privatized Social Security. And after what happened on Wall Street just four years ago, does anybody actually think that’s a good idea? (Laughter.)

Most seniors rely on Social Security for most of their income. It keeps 20 million Americans out of poverty each and every year. And while it’s not the cause of today’s deficits, we do need to strengthen the program for the coming decades. And that means folks on both sides need to come together around a balanced plan. (Applause.)

My opponent claims that to pay for a new $5 trillion tax cut skewed towards the very top, he’d just close tax loopholes for the very wealthy. But independent experts say there’s no way to do that without also cutting deductions that the middle class relies on, and that includes taxing things like Social Security benefits. And this could mean higher taxes for seniors on Social Security, including taxing benefits for seniors who make less than $32,000 a year for the first time ever. Nearly 30 million seniors could see their taxes go up by hundreds of dollars.

So I want you all to know at AARP I’m not going to let that happen. (Applause.) My plan calls for both parties to come together and take responsible steps to preserve Social Security for the long run. And we’ll do it in a way that ensures a lifetime of hard work is rewarded with dignity and security for generations to come.

So you guys have a big choice in this election and these are the paths — the two paths our country can take. We can spend trillions of dollars on tax cuts targeted towards the wealthiest Americans, which could result in cuts to benefits that you’ve worked a lifetime to earn. Or we can take a balanced approach to invest in the middle class and strengthen Medicare and Social Security for you and your children and your grandchildren. That’s the choice in this election and that’s why I’m asking for your vote. (Applause.)

So thanks so much, AARP, for having me. And with that, Jane, I’m ready to take some questions. (Applause.)

Q Mr. President, Jane Pauley here again. I’m back in the hall with our members, and they do have some questions for you. I’d like to explain here in the hall that — what a satellite delay is. When I ask a question, it goes up there, and then it comes down. There’s about a second and a half delay between my delivering a question and the President hearing it. Just so you know the drill and a little inside stuff on television.

Mr. President, we are so grateful that you can stay with us a few minutes longer.

Mike, from Brier, Washington, asks: “How will you reduce the federal debt and not gut Social Security and Medicare?”

THE PRESIDENT: Well, it’s a great question, Mike, and I appreciate it. We have a genuine challenge in bringing our deficit down and reducing our debt, and I think it’s important for folks to know that 90 percent of the debt and deficits that we’re seeing right now are the result of choices that were made over the course of the last decade — two wars that weren’t paid for; tax cuts skewed towards the wealthy that were not paid for. So we made some decisions, and then when the Great Recession hit, that meant more money was going out and not as much money was coming in, and that has blown up our deficit and our debt.

The key to reducing it is to do it in a balanced, responsible way. So I’ve put forward a $4 trillion, deficit-reduction plan which would bring our deficits down to a manageable level and begin the work of bringing our debt down, and it involves making some tough choices. So I’ve already signed a trillion dollars’ worth of cuts, programs that we don’t need, programs that, frankly, are not helping people get more opportunity or creating pathways for success for middle-class families or those who are striving to get into the middle class.

But after those cuts are made and some additional cuts are made, the only way to reach that $4 trillion target to also ask the wealthiest among us to do a little bit more. So what I’ve suggested is that we go back for people whose incomes are above $250,000 to go back to the tax rates that existed when Bill Clinton was President, which, by the way, was a time when we created 23 million new jobs, went from a deficit to a surplus, and created a whole lot of millionaires to boot. (Applause.)

Now, this contrasts with the plan that my opponent is putting forward for deficit reduction. And some of you may have seen President Clinton speak at the convention — (applause) — what’s missing from it is arithmetic, because what they’re proposing is not only to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, but then they want to add another $5 trillion tax cut on top of that, and $2 trillion in additional defense spending that our Joint Chiefs of Staff say doesn’t make sense at a time when we’re winding down two wars.

So before they even start digging us out of the hole that we’re in, they just added to the hole with $7 trillion in additional spending on tax cuts or on defense. Now, they haven’t explained how they would pay for that, but independent analysts who have looked at it have said the only way you pay for this is not only to gut investments in education, in basic research that could help find cures for cancer or Alzheimer’s, to not invest in our infrastructure, but it also means that you’re going to have to impose a higher tax burden on middle-class families — up to $2,000 a year for families with children.

And as I mentioned in my opening remarks, if you’re looking at figuring out how to pay for that $5 trillion tax cut, part of what you would also start looking at is taxing Social Security benefits, or turning Medicare into a voucher program. And that is not the right approach to take.

My attitude is that if we’re going to work together to bring down our deficit, everybody has got to do their fair share, everybody has got to do their part. (Applause.) And for us to have new tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires to pay for cuts in Social Security or Medicare or education is just not the right way to go.

Q Mr. President, from Washington D.C, Paulette (ph) asks a question. She says, “If one makes $106 [thousand] a year or less, they pay Social Security taxes on 100 percent of their income; a millionaire pays 10 percent or less. Will you try to get the cap removed for Social Security taxes?”

THE PRESIDENT: I do think that looking at changing the cap is an important aspect of putting Social Security on a more stable footing. (Applause.) And what I’ve said is, is that I’m willing to work with Republicans and examine all their ideas, but what I’m not going to do as a matter of principle is to slash benefits or privatize Social Security and suddenly turn it over to Wall Street. Because we saw what can happen, back in 2008/2009, when the stock market crashed. And we’re still recovering from that.

Q Mr. President, James from Derry, Pennsylvania says, “I haven’t heard you say much about out-of-control prescription drug costs facing those of us retired and living on fixed incomes. What are you plans to bring down these costs?”

THE PRESIDENT: Well, the good news is, I’m not just talking about it, we’ve actually done something about it. (Applause.) The health care bill that we passed, Obamacare, which, by the way, I don’t mind the term because I do care, that’s why we passed the bill — (applause) — one of the things that we did was to begin closing the notorious doughnut hole that so many seniors suffer from.

So starting this year already, what we’re seeing is a 50 percent discount for seniors who are in the doughnut hole. Each year they’re going to get additional discounts until the doughnut hole is completely closed. That’s already saving millions of seniors around the country an average of $600 to $650 a year. That’s on top, by the way, of the preventive care that is now provided without additional charge, under Medicare, as a consequence of what we did with Obamacare.

And there’s more that we can do on prescription drugs. One of the things that I’ve proposed in my budget is that Medicare recipients should get some of the same deep discounts that Medicaid receives. That would save additional billions of dollars for seniors. (Applause.) And there’s work that we can also do in terms of accelerating the use of generics and making sure that the process for seniors getting access to cheaper prescription drugs is obtained.

But this is critically important because I meet too many families where they tell me a story of their parents having to cut their pills in half because they just can’t afford the prescriptions that have been given to them.

Q Mr. President, a question for you from Hawaii, from Richard: “What would you do to guarantee the future of Medicare?”

THE PRESIDENT: Well, again, it turns out that contrary to what you’ve heard and what you may hear from subsequent speakers, Obamacare actually strengthened Medicare. So what we did was extend the Medicare trust fund by eight years. In addition, we dealt with prescription drugs in a way that is helping seniors now and in the future. The preventive care that we’re doing is going to ensure that seniors stay healthier, which reduces costs.

And one thing that I want to point out is, when you hear this notion of — that we somehow took $716 billion, robbed it from Medicare beneficiaries and seniors, I want you to know that is simply not true. (Applause.) What we did was we went after waste and fraud, and overcharging by insurance companies, for example. Those savings do come out to $716 [billion], and those savings are part of what allows us to close the doughnut hole, provide the preventive care, and is actually going to extend the life of Medicare over the long term. It also, by the way, helps to reduce the increase in the premiums that seniors pay under Medicare.

And that points to what we need to do with Medicare generally. What we need to do is to go after the waste, the fraud, and reduce health care costs overall. (Applause.) So part of what we’re doing through this new health care law is using the power of — the purchasing power of Medicare to say to doctors and hospitals and insurance companies, you guys need to work smarter — instead of having five different tests that you’re charging us for, do one test and then email it to everybody. (Applause.) Instead of having all kinds of administrative costs and paperwork, let’s make sure that we’re using health IT — information technologies — to do a better job. Let’s coordinate care better. Let’s engage in more preventive care. (Applause.)

Because this is not just a Medicare problem. Medicare actually is a very efficient program relative to the private insurance programs. The problem is health care costs generally are going up. So we’ve got to bring down health care costs; that’s what we’re focused on. And I just want to point out that the other side’s approach to saving Medicare — and you’ll be hearing about this, I gather, after I speak — is to turn Medicare into a voucher program and essentially transfer those costs onto seniors.

Congressman Ryan’s original plan that was put forward — independent analysis showed that, as a consequence, seniors could expect to pay over $6,000 more for their Medicare once they were under a voucher program. Now, that was his original plan. I want to be fair here. He then modified it — because obviously there was a lot of pushback from seniors on that idea — so he said, well, we’re going to have traditional Medicare stand side by side with the voucher program, and no current beneficiaries will be affected.

The problem is that insurance companies, once they’re getting vouchers, they’re really good at recruiting the healthier, younger Medicare recipients, and weeding out and leaving in traditional Medicare [to] the older, sicker recipients. And over time what happens is that, because there are older, sicker folks in the traditional Medicare plan, premiums start going up, they start going through the roof. And the entire infrastructure of traditional Medicare ends up collapsing, which means that all seniors at some point end up being at the mercy of the insurance companies through a voucher program. That’s what we’re trying to prevent. And the reason that AARP supported Obamacare and does not support this voucher approach is because they have looked at these independent experts and the analysis that they’ve put forward, and they know that a voucher program is not going to be a good deal for Medicare over the long haul. (Applause.)

Q Mr. President, from Sandwich, Massachusetts. Kathy (ph) has the following question for you: “What would your administration do to make sure age discrimination laws are enforced so we have an even playing field to get a job?”

THE PRESIDENT: Well, this is a great question, and obviously one of the challenges that we’ve seen as a consequence of this terrible recession we went through was a lot of workers in their 50s and early 60s found themselves suddenly laid off, and it’s very hard for them to get their foot in the door despite all the incredible experience that they have and the skills and training that they’ve got. So there are a couple of things that we need to do.

Number one, we just have to make sure that we’re enforcing nondiscrimination laws effectively. And the Attorney General knows that that’s always a top priority for me. In some cases, part of what we’re trying to do is to see if we legislatively can overturn some bad Supreme Court rulings that have made it harder to prove age discrimination. (Applause.)

Q Using the —

THE PRESIDENT: And that’s something that we’re really focused on.

Q Forgive me for interrupting the President of the United States. Sorry. (Laughter.)

Mr. President, you used the word “legislation” which will ring a bell with Joe from Fort Aktinson, Wisconsin, who asks: “What can you do about this gridlock between both sides of the aisle in Congress?”

THE PRESIDENT: Well, Jane, let me just say this — first of all, before I go to the gridlock issue, I did want to emphasize that in addition to dealing with age discrimination, the work that’s being done between the SBA and the AARP around the Encore Entrepreneur’s Program, helping thousands of seniors across the country start their own small businesses, if in fact they’re not getting hired, to provide them a source of income and use their incredible skills — I just wanted to give a shout out to AARP because that program is really doing great work. (Applause.)

But when it comes to gridlock, look, I came in in 2008 and I said, even though I got 53 percent of the vote and 47 percent of the country voted against me, that I’d be the President for everybody, and I’d listen to everybody’s voices. (Applause.)

And every idea that I put forward and all the work that we have done has been to draw on the best ideas from both parties. In fact, Obamacare now owes a debt to what was done in Massachusetts by my opponent Mr. Romney, even though sometimes he denies it. (Applause.)

So I am always going to be looking to find common ground and solve problems for the American people. The one thing I won’t do, though, is to go along with bad ideas that are not helping the middle class, not helping people who have worked hard all their lives, not helping to provide ladders of opportunity to people who are still looking to succeed in this great country of ours. And so, if I hear that the only way that Republicans in Congress are willing to move forward is to voucherize Medicare, I’ll say no. (Applause.) If the only thing that they’re willing to offer in terms of deficit reduction is to do it on the backs of seniors or our children who need to get a great education, or middle-class families who can’t afford another tax increase, I’m going to say no.

So part of what I think you want from your President is somebody who is working hard to bring people together, but is also willing to stand up to bad ideas that would end up tilting the playing field further in favor of those who have already made it instead of also thinking about folks who are trying to make it who worked hard all their lives, like my grandmother. And that’s exactly why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States. (Applause.)

Q Mr. President, on behalf of everyone here in the hall and listening online, we are so grateful that you could spend some time with us this morning. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much, Jane. Take care, everybody.

11:46 A.M. EDT

Campaign Buzz October 25, 2011: Republican Presidential Candidate Gov. Rick Perry Unveils his “Cut, Balance and Grow” Flat Tax plan


By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger to be published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.



Gov. Rick Perry of Texas outlined his proposal for a 20 percent flat tax and deficit reduction plan at the ISO Poly Films factory in Gray Court, S.C. Tuesday.

Richard Ellis/Getty ImagesGov. Rick Perry of Texas outlined his proposal for a 20-percent flat tax and deficit reduction plan on Tuesday at the ISO Poly Films factory in Gray Court, S.C.


Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry officially announces flat tax plan: In Greenville, South Carolina, Texas governor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry formally unveiled his economic plan Tuesday. The proposal includes long-held conservative goals, including personal accounts for Social Security, an optional flat tax, major spending cuts and a series of tax cuts.
The plan would dramatically reduce taxes, particularly on wealthy Americans and corporations. It would reduce the corporate tax rate from 35 to 20 percent, eliminate taxes on dividends and many capital gains and essentially cap individual tax rates at 20 percent.

Full Text Campaign Buzz October 25, 2011: Republican Presidential Candidate Gov. Rick Perry Unveils in a Speech his “Cut, Balance and Grow” Flat Tax plan in South Carolina — Transcript

Campaign Buzz October 25, 2011: Republican Presidential Candidate Gov. Rick Perry Previews “Cut, Balance and Grow” Flat Tax plan — Wall Street Journal Op-ed

  • Perry calls for sweeping tax cuts, benefit changes: Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry proposed dramatic tax and spending changes Tuesday, saying he would let Americans choose between a 20 percent flat tax and the current system, allow private Social Security accounts and slash government spending and regulation.
    Perry, seeking to regain the momentum he enjoyed in late August, said his plan would significantly spur economic growth. But analysts from the left and right said he would need draconian federal budget cuts to avoid massive deficits.
    In a pitch to conservatives, the Texas governor said his “Cut, Balance and Grow” plan was bolder than what his Republican rivals or President Barack Obama would do. His proposal calls for gradually increasing eligibility ages for Social Security and Medicare and for amending the Constitution to require balanced budgets…. – AP, 10-25-11
  • Perry Plan Would Grant Big Tax Break to Wealthiest: The plan, which includes a new flat tax, would eliminate capital gains taxes, and lower the rate richest Americans pay…. – NYT, 10-25-11
  • Perry Offers Plan to ‘Save Social Security’: Rick Perry offered his most detailed response yet to criticism that he views Social Security as a Ponzi scheme and spelled out changes to the federal retirement program…. – NYT, 10-25-11
  • Rick Perry unveils tax plan in bid to jump-start campaign: Returning to South Carolina, a state key to reviving his presidential candidacy, Gov. Rick Perry unveiled what he said was a “bold” tax plan to revive the nation’s economy.
    The Texas governor, speaking at the warehouse of a specialty plastics company south of Greenville, proposed a flat tax plan that critics said would worsen the federal deficit.
    Perry’s plan includes an optional 20% flat tax for individuals and corporations. But he would allow anyone to remain with the current tax system, insuring that no one’s taxes would go up and threatening to cut federal revenue by hundreds of billions of dollars a year…. – LAT, 10-25-11
  • Perry Wants Flat Tax With Some Popular Deductions: Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry proposed a sweeping economic plan Tuesday that includes a flat tax proposal, private retirement accounts for Social Security, a lower corporate tax rate and reforms aimed at keeping Medicare…. – ABC News, 10-25-11
  • Rick Perry joins flat tax parade – a hot idea fresh from the 1860s: Rick Perry follows Herman Cain in proposing a flat tax. Ron Paul has endorsed the idea before, too. But the hot new idea among GOP presidential candidates is as old as the Civil War…. – CS Monitor, 10-25-11
  • Perry rolls out flat tax plan: Rick Perry, whose presidential campaign to date has largely focused on his accomplishments as Texas governor, expanded his scope Tuesday in South Carolina, where he formally unveiled a flat tax proposal designed to stimulate the economy and cut taxes…. – Politico, 10-25-11
  • Perry unveils flat-tax plan: Gov. Rick Perry this morning proposed a sweeping tax overhaul whose centerpiece is an optional, 20 percent flat tax on all income, plus a number of changes to Social Security and other entitlements…. – Austin American-Statesman, 10-25-11
  • Struggling Perry Proposes Flat Tax and Spending Plan: Gov. Rick Perry, struggling in the polls as he pursues the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, released a tax and spending reform plan today aimed at luring away business-minded voters from Mitt Romney and Tea Party…. – Texas Tribune, 10-25-11
  • Rick Perry lays out tax reform proposal calling for a 20% flat tax rate: Under Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s plan, taxpayers could pay the new 20% flat rate, or keep their current tax rate. Do you think Rick Perry’s flat tax proposal is a good solution for Americans? Republican hopeful Rick Perry laid out a tax plan…. – New York Daily News, 10-25-11
  • Perry Tax Cut Plan Offers Simplicity Layered Atop Complexity: Texas Governor Rick Perry’s flat-tax fiscal plan would provide broad tax cuts to households that embrace it while retaining the existing system’s complexity as a choice for others. The plan, announced today in a speech in South Carolina…. – San Francisco Chronicle, Bloomberg, 10-25-11
  • Rick Perry readies assault on Mitt Romney: The Rick Perry relaunch has finally arrived. After weeks battling questions about how he plans to salvage his listing presidential bid, the Texas governor has finally started spelling out an answer. It involves opening his $15 million campaign war chest, hitting Mitt Romney harder and moving to reclaim the role of the populist conservative outsider in the race.
    Perry will deliver a policy address Tuesday in South Carolina outlining his support for a national flat tax — a proposal that for the first time extends beyond his record in Texas. His campaign has reserved statewide television airtime in Iowa to start as early as this week…. – Politico, 10-25-11
  • Perry’s tax plan faces quick attack from Democrats: South Carolina Democrats today attacked GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry’s tax reform plan before his unveiling…. – Greenville News, 10-25-11

Full Text Campaign Buzz October 25, 2011: Republican Presidential Candidate Gov. Rick Perry Unveils in a Speech his “Cut, Balance and Grow” Flat Tax plan in South Carolina — Transcript



Gov. Rick Perry of Texas outlined his proposal for a 20 percent flat tax and deficit reduction plan at the ISO Poly Films factory in Gray Court, S.C. Tuesday.

Richard Ellis/Getty ImagesGov. Rick Perry of Texas outlined his proposal for a 20-percent flat tax and deficit reduction plan on Tuesday at the ISO Poly Films factory in Gray Court, S.C.

Gov. Rick Perry Unveils Plan to Cut Taxes and Spending, Balance the Budget and Grow the Economy

“Cut, Balance and Grow” plan offers optional 20% flat tax; cuts federal spending, repeals job-killing regulations, sets path to balanced budget

GREENVILLE, S.C. – Texas Gov. Rick Perry today unveiled his Cut, Balance and Grow plan, which provides taxpayers with the choice of a simple, 20 percent flat tax rate, cuts federal spending, ends earmarks and includes a federal Balanced Budget Amendment.  He announced his plan at ISO Poly Films near Greenville.

The governor’s plan addresses five primary areas of reform, which include replacing the current tax code with an optional 20 percent flat tax for individuals and corporations, simplifying our regulatory system by freezing new and auditing pending regulations, fixing Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid entitlement programs, balancing the federal budget by 2020, and repealing job-killing federal laws like Obamacare, Dodd-Frank and parts of Sarbanes-Oxley…. READ MORE

To view Gov. Perry’s entire Cut, Balance and Grow plan, please visit http://www.rickperry.org/cut-balance-and-grow-html/, and to view an outline of the plan, please visit http://www.rickperry.org/content/uploads/2011/10/Cut-Balance-and-Grow-Summary.pdf. To view a sample tax return, please visit http://www.rickperry.org/content/uploads/2011/10/sample-tax-return.pdf.

To view the governor’s remarks, please visit http://www.rickperry.org/news/text-of-gov-rick-perry-cut-balance-grow-speech/


Text of Gov. Rick Perry’s Cut, Balance, Grow Speech

ISO Poly Films, Greenville, S.C., 10/25/11

*Gov. Perry sometimes deviates from prepared remarks

Thank you. It is great to be in the stomping grounds of a great conservative senator, Jim DeMint. I want to thank ISO Poly Films CEO John McClure for opening his business as we discuss my plan to get America working again.

Today I lay before the American People my cut, balance and grow plan. It cuts taxes and spending. It balances the budget by 2020. And it grows jobs and the economy.

It neither reshuffles the status quo, nor does it expand the ways Washington can reach into our pocketbooks.

It reorders the way they do business in Washington by reinventing the tax code and restoring our nation to fiscal health through balanced budgets and entitlement reform.

Central to my plan is giving every American the option of throwing out the three million words of the current tax code, and the costs of complying with that code, in order to pay a 20 percent flat tax on their income.

The size of the current code, which is more than 72,000 pages, is represented by this pallet and its many reams of paper.

The best representation of my plan is this post card, which taxpayers will be able to fill out to file their taxes.

Each individual taxpayer will have a choice: you can continue to pay taxes, as well as accountants and lawyers under the current system, or, you can file your taxes on a postcard, with deductions only for interest on a mortgage, charitable giving, and state and local tax payments.

Under my plan, you will no longer have to worry about paying taxes on social security when you retire, or your family members paying the death tax when you die. And you can wave goodbye to the capital gains tax, as well as the tax on dividends.

We will increase the standard exemption for individuals and dependents to $12,500, meaning families in the middle on the lower end of the economic scale will have the opportunity to get ahead. Taxes will be cut across all income groups in America. The net benefit will be more money in Americans’ pockets, with greater investment in the private economy instead of the federal government.

On the corporate tax side, I am offering equally bold reform. My plan closes corporate loopholes, ends the special breaks for special interests, and stops the gravy train of lobbyists and tax lawyers at the Washington trough.

In exchange for a corporate tax free of carve-outs and exclusions, I offer a much lower rate of 20 percent that represents the average corporate rate among the developed nations, and that will make our corporations more competitive on a global scale.

We will shut down the cottage industry of corporate tax evasion by creating a tax that is broad, fair and low.

And my plan offers incentives for corporations to invest in America again, with two major reforms. First, we will transition to a territorial tax system on corporate income earned overseas. This means companies pay the appropriate corporate tax in the country where income was earned, but aren’t taxed a second time when that income is moved back into the United States.

Second, for all corporate profits currently languishing overseas, I will offer a one-time reduced tax rate of five and a quarter percent for a limited period of time on repatriated earnings.

The U.S. Chamber estimates this one-time tax reduction would bring more than $1 trillion in capital back to the U.S, create up to 2.9 million jobs, and increase economic output by $360 billion.

In other words, it’s the kind of economic stimulus President Obama could have achieved if he wasn’t hell-bent on passing big government schemes that have failed American workers.

Today, America’s combined corporate tax rate of 39.2 percent is the second highest in the developed world. It is time to overhaul our tax code so companies like ISO Poly Films can invest more in their people and their products.

Tax rates have consequences. The liberals myopically ignore the realities of human nature. They think in raising rates they will raise revenue. But they don’t understand large employers have choices, as do wealthy individuals, and that includes moving money off-shore. When they try to take too much, they end up hurting the very people they seek to help: the working class.

We need tax policy that embraces the world as it is, and not what liberal ideologues wish it to be.

The goal of my cut, balance and grow plan is to unleash job creation to address the current economic crisis, while generating a stable source of revenue to address our record deficit and put our fiscal house in order.

My plan should not be viewed in a vacuum, but in comparison to the continuation of the status quo. It provides employers and investors certainty, which is critical to getting capital back into the economy. The president’s plan provides temporary tax relief, which does nothing to encourage long-term investment because it doesn’t provide the private sector certainty.

The way to stimulate the economy is not through temporary tax relief or government spending; it is to stimulate private spending through permanent tax relief.

The flat tax will unleash growth. But growth is not enough. We must put a stop to the entitlement culture that risks the financial solvency of this country for future generations.

The red flags are alarming. Our children are born into $46,000 of federal debt. Our credit was downgraded for the first time this past August, in part because of a lack of seriousness about deficit reduction. According to the White House Office of Management and Budget, by year’s end our debt will exceed the size of America’s economy for the first time in 65 years. We are on the road to ruin paved by state serfdom.

Freeing our children from financial disaster requires the courage to reform entitlements. My plan establishes firm principles to preserve Medicare and Social Security for today’s beneficiaries, while saving it for tomorrow’s.

I am putting forward five principles to save Social Security for the long-term. First, we will protect existing benefits for current retirees, and work with Congress on the exact age where those nearing retirement are grandfathered out of changes to the program.

Second, we will end the current pillaging of the Social Security Trust Fund by Washington politicians. Here is the hard truth: the trust fund is full of IOU’s, without a single dime of money left over from what workers have paid in. The politicians have borrowed against it for years. And in order to redeem the IOU’s in the fund, they will have to either raise taxes or cut spending on other programs to replenish it.

Here is the other hard truth: if we don’t act, in 25 years benefits will be slashed 23 percent overnight. Protecting Social Security benefits begins with protecting the solvency of the fund, and stopping all current borrowing from the fund, just as we have done with the highway trust fund.

The third principle of reform is to allow young workers to invest a portion of their payroll taxes into private accounts if they so choose.

I am not naïve. I know this idea will be attacked. But a couple of facts are worth stating: one, the return on investment in Social Security is so small it is like an interest bearing savings account. Over the long-term, the markets generate a much higher yield.

Second, opposition to this simple measure is based on a simple supposition: that the people are not smart enough to look out for themselves. The liberals think the American people cannot be trusted to safeguard even a portion of their own retirement dollars. It is time to end the nanny state and empower our people to exercise greater control over their money.

The fourth principle is to return to pre-1983 law and allow state and local governments to newly opt out of Social Security and instead allow their employees to pay solely into state or locally run retirement programs. This has been done around the country, with better results. We ought to allow it again.

Lastly, we ought to work to raise the retirement age for younger workers – on a gradual basis – to reflect the longer life-span of today’s Americans. I will work with Congress to determine the right formula, beginning at the right age. But this is common sense, and it can help save Social Security for future generations.

We will also reform Medicare to save it for future generations of Americans.  We will do this by working with Congress on several options, including giving patients greater flexibility in choosing the plan that best fits their unique needs through bundled premium support payments to the individual, or as a credit against purchase of health insurance.

Second, we should look at gradually raising the age of Medicare eligibility. Third, we should consider adjusting Medicare benefits to be paid on a sliding scale based on the income of the recipient. And lastly, we must tackle the $100 billion in annual waste and fraud to save this valuable program as Americans live longer.

My plan also restructures Medicaid, returning control over the program and the dollars needed to administer it to states. One-size-fits-all health care doesn’t work for people on private plans in the form of Obamacare, and it doesn’t work with public plans, such as Medicaid. Washington has broken it, and shown no will to fix it. We must give state leaders the flexibility to fix Medicaid and control its costs.

These reforms are essential to balancing the budget. My plan balances the budget as fast as any serious plan offered, in the year 2020, with reforms to entitlements, with greater economic growth, and with cuts to discretionary spending.

I do not take the tack of the current President, with arbitrary cuts to defense spending. The question we must ask is not what we can afford to spend on our national defense, but what does it cost to keep America secure.

At the same time, we will reform the way we spend money in Washington so we can balance the budget in eight years. But to truly protect taxpayers, we need the extra protection of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the United States Constitution.

I will reduce spending in the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the EPA, and a whole host of other agencies, returning greater control to the states.

My plan reduces non-defense discretionary spending by $100 billion in year one, and builds on those savings in the years to come.

I will also institute several principle reforms to the budgetary process, which are contained in my Cut, Balance and Grow Plan on my website.

It is not the length of a “War and Peace” novel, and is easy to understand, yet bold in its approach.

Included in my budget reforms are elimination of baseline budgeting that assumes previous expenditures are sacrosanct, an end to non-emergency spending in emergency bills, and a permanent stop to “bridge to nowhere” projects through the elimination of earmarks. I will couple these budgetary reforms with an overhaul of the regulatory process.

When federal agencies like the NLRB are dictating to companies where they can create jobs and where they cannot, they have over-stepped their bounds and undermined our free market system. On my first day in office, I will freeze all pending federal regulations and immediately begin a review of all new regulations since January of 2008.

Today the Federal Register contains 165,000 pages. The index alone is eleven hundred pages long. And somehow, despite not having any of these new regulations for our first 219 years, America not only survived, we thrived.

The federal nanny state’s heavy-handed regulations are keeping our economy in the ditch. It is time to review and scrap regulations that harm jobs and growth.

Lastly, one of the greatest impediments to investment in America are the Dodd-Frank banking regulations, and I will lead the charge to eliminate them.

Dodd-Frank is killing small banks, and freezing access to credit just when small businesses need it most. It enshrines bailouts and the notion of “too big to fail” in federal law, benefitting Wall Street while killing Main Street. It’s wrong. It’s unfair. It must go.

My plan does not trim around the edges. And it does not bow down to the established interests. But it is the kind of bold reform needed to jolt this economy out of its doldrums, and renew American prosperity. Those who oppose it will wrap themselves in the cloak of the status quo.

America is under a crushing burden of debt, and the president simply offers larger deficits and the politics of class division. Others simply offer microwaved plans with warmed-over reforms based on current ingredients.

Americans, however, aren’t searching for a reshuffling of the status quo, which simply empowers the entrenched interests. This is a change election, and I offer a plan that changes the way Washington does business.

The great issue facing this nation is whether we have the courage to confront spending and the vision to get our economy growing again. We need a tax code that unleashes growth instead of preventing it; that promotes fairness, not class warfare; that sparks investment in America instead of overseas interests.

It is time to create incentives for American companies to invest in American workers. It is time to end the corporate loopholes, end the special tax breaks for special interests, end the gravy train for lobbyists and tax lawyers.

It is time to pass a tax that is flat and fair, that frees our employers and our people to invest, grow and prosper.

We will set our employers and our people free by slashing the cost of government, cutting taxes for middle class families, balancing our budget and growing our economy.

The future of America is too important to be left to the Washington politicians. To get America working again, we must cut taxes and spending, balance the federal budget, and grow our economy and jobs.

My plan unleashes American ingenuity for a new American Century.  Restores the hopes and dreams of our people. Renews our great promise. And entrusts the fate of this nation into the hands of our People, setting them free.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.

Campaign Buzz October 25, 2011: Republican Presidential Candidate Gov. Rick Perry Previews “Cut, Balance and Grow” Flat Tax plan in Wall Street Journal Op-ed




Rick Perry: My Tax and Spending Reform Plan

Individuals will have the option of paying a 20% flat-rate income tax and I’ll cap spending at 18% of GDP.

Source: WSJ, 10-25-11

The folks in Washington might not like to hear it, but the plain truth is the U.S. government spends too much. Taxes are too high, too complex, and too riddled with special interest loopholes. And our expensive entitlement system is unsustainable in the long run.

Without significant change quickly, our nation will go the way of some in Europe: mired in debt and unable to pay our bills. President Obama and many in Washington seem unable or unwilling to tackle these issues, either out of fear of alienating the left or because they want Americans to be dependent on big government.

On Tuesday I will announce my “Cut, Balance and Grow” plan to scrap the current tax code, lower and simplify tax rates, cut spending and balance the federal budget, reform entitlements, and grow jobs and economic opportunity.

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.

This simple 20% flat tax will allow Americans to file their taxes on a postcard, saving up to $483 billion in compliance costs. By eliminating the dozens of carve-outs that make the current code so incomprehensible, we will renew incentives for entrepreneurial risk-taking and investment that creates jobs, inspires Americans to work hard and forms the foundation of a strong economy. My plan also abolishes the death tax once and for all, providing needed certainty to American family farms and small businesses.

My plan restores American competitiveness in the global marketplace and provides strong incentives for U.S.-based employers to build new factories and create thousands of jobs here at home.

First, we will lower the corporate tax rate to 20%—dropping it from the second highest in the developed world to a rate on par with our global competitors. Second, we will encourage the swift repatriation of some of the $1.4 trillion estimated to be parked overseas by temporarily lowering the rate to 5.25%. And third, we will transition to a “territorial tax system”—as seen in Hong Kong and France, for example—that only taxes in-country income.

The mind-boggling complexity of the current tax code helps large corporations with lawyers and accountants devise the best tax-avoidance strategies money can buy. That is why Cut, Balance and Grow also phases out corporate loopholes and special-interest tax breaks to provide a level playing field for employers of all sizes.

To help older Americans, we will eliminate the tax on Social Security benefits, boosting the incomes of 17 million current beneficiaries who see their benefits taxed if they continue to work and earn income in addition to Social Security earnings.

We will eliminate the tax on qualified dividends and long-term capital gains to free up the billions of dollars Americans are sitting on to avoid taxes on the gain.

All of these tax cuts will be meaningless if we do not control federal spending. Last year the government spent $1.3 trillion more than it collected, and total federal debt now approaches $15 trillion. By the end of 2011, the Office of Management and Budget expects the gross amount of federal debt to exceed the size of America’s entire economy for the first time in over 65 years.

Under my plan, we will establish a clear goal of balancing the budget by 2020. It will be an extremely difficult task exacerbated by the current economic crisis and our need for significant tax cuts to spur growth. But that growth is what will get us to balance, if we are willing to make the hard decisions of cutting.

We should start moving toward fiscal responsibility by capping federal spending at 18% of our gross domestic product, banning earmarks and future bailouts, and passing a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. My plan freezes federal civilian hiring and salaries until the budget is balanced. And to fix the regulatory excess of the Obama administration and its predecessors, my plan puts an immediate moratorium on pending federal regulations and provides a full audit of all regulations passed since 2008 to determine their need, impact and effect on job creation.

ObamaCare, Dodd-Frank and Section 404 of Sarbanes-Oxley must be quickly repealed and, if necessary, replaced by market-oriented, common-sense measures.

America must also once and for all face up to entitlement reform. To preserve benefits for current and near-term Social Security beneficiaries, my plan permanently stops politicians from raiding the program’s trust fund. Congressional IOUs are no substitute for workers’ Social Security payments. We should use the federal Highway Trust Fund as a model for protecting the integrity of a pay-as-you-go system.

Cut, Balance and Grow also gives younger workers the option to own their Social Security contributions through personal retirement accounts that Washington politicians can never raid. Because young workers will own their contributions, they will be free to seek a market rate of return if they choose, and to leave their retirement savings to their dependents when they die.

Fixing America’s tax, spending and entitlement cultures will not be easy. But the status quo of byzantine taxes, loose spending and the perpetual delay of entitlement reform is a recipe for disaster.

Cut, Balance and Grow strikes a major blow against the Washington-knows-best mindset. It takes money from spendthrift bureaucrats and returns it to families. It puts fewer job-killing regulations on employers and more restrictions on politicians. It gives more freedom to Americans to control their own destiny. And just as importantly, the Cut, Balance and Grow plan paves the way for the job creation, balanced budgets and fiscal responsibility we need to get America working again.

Mr. Perry, a Republican, is the governor of Texas and a candidate for president.

Campaign Buzz September 12, 2011: Rick Perry’s Op-Ed in USA Today on Social Security — “I am going to be honest with the American people” (Full Text)



Rick Perry: I am going to be honest with the American people

Gov. Rick PerryThe first step to fixing a problem is honestly admitting there is a problem. America’s goal must be to fix Social Security by making it more financially sound and sustainable for the long term. But Americans deserve a frank and honest discussion

As I said at the Reagan Library recently, Social Security benefits for current recipients and those nearing retirement must be protected. For younger workers, we must consider reforms to make Social Security financially viable.

These are the hard facts: Social Security’s unfunded liability is calculated in the trillions of dollars. Last year, annual Social Security outlays exceeded annual revenues for the first time since 1983. The Congressional Budget Office projects that outlays will be roughly 5% greater than revenues over the next five years, worsening as more and more Baby Boomers retire.

By 2037, retirees will only get roughly 76 cents back for every dollar that is put into Social Security unless reforms are implemented. Imagine how long a traditional retirement or investment plan could survive if it projected investors would lose 24% of their money?

I am going to be honest with the American people. Our elected leaders must have the strength to speak frankly about entitlement reform if we are to right our nation’s financial course and get the USA working again.

For too long, politicians have been afraid to speak honestly about Social Security. We must have the guts to talk about its financial condition if we are to fix Social Security and make it financially viable for generations to come.

Americans must come together and agree to address the problems so today’s beneficiaries and tomorrow’s retirees really can count on Social Security for the long haul.

We must have a frank, honest national conversation about fixing Social Security to protect benefits for those at or near retirement while keeping faith with younger generations, who are being asked to pay.

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas is seeking the Republican presidential nomination.

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