10/20/2011 06:56 pm ET | Updated Dec 20, 2011

Perry's Flat Tax Foolery

The political graveyard is littered with flat taxers. What better sign of Rick Perry's desperation than his embrace of a tax plan that the public always ends up rejecting once the details come forth.

Clearly a ploy to derail Herman Cain with his own tax cartoon, Perry's flat-tax gambit will likely gain a short-term boost among Republican voters who are so eager for simple ideas. And it's obviously no accident that Steve Forbes, who got nowhere running for president on the flat-tax platform, is advising Perry's fledgling campaign.

As good as it sounds the flat tax slams the poor and the middle class most. Apparently that's a plus in Republican politics, but a losing proposition in the general election. Are homeowners really willing to give up their mortgage deduction on the promise that government will hold down rates? Of course not.

Just because a tax is flat doesn't mean it can't go up. And if Perry's team designs a plan that maintains popular items such as the charitable deduction it's not a flat tax and pretty soon it looks like the same complicated mess we have now.

Now on Craig's blog: Romney's Trip-O-Li