Rick Perry Revives Debate on Flat Taxes

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Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry.
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When Herman Cain introduced his 999 plan, it put him in the spotlight and helped vault him to the top of the polls. It was just a matter of time before another Republican presidential contender offered something similar. Within days, Newt Gingrich proposed a 15 percent flat tax. Now Governor Rick Perry has responded with a flat tax plan of his own. Perry's plan centers around a 20 percent flat tax, and offers a choice. Taxpayers can either file under the current system, or opt to use Perry's flat rate.

What's behind Americans' long-standing fascination with flat tax plans? New York Times columnist Joe Nocera puts Governor Perry's plan in context, and Rice University political science professor Paul Brace analyzes what this plan could mean for Perry's campaign — and for the country.