Phyllis Schafly

Things have gotten so bad for the Rick Perry campaign that even social conservatives, traditionally among the governor’s most loyal supporters, are going after him. Phyllis Schafly, founder of the anti-gay Eagle Forum, has written a piece called “Rick Perry’s Marriage Problem” in which she insinuates that his proposed 20 percent flat tax is actually a pro-gay conspiracy because it would eliminate some advantages for married couples in which one spouse is the primary breadwinner. Here’s an excerpt:

For more than 60 years, the federal income tax has treated the family as an economic unit. A husband and wife have the benefit of pooling their income in a joint tax return which affords larger deductions and lower rates.

Perry would replace the pooling of husband-wife income with a system in which each individual, regardless of marital status, would owe federal taxes on his or her separate income. Perry’s plan offers “generous standard deductions of $12,500 for individuals and their dependents” — which ignores the fact that children are “dependents” of both their parents, even if one earns all or most of the family income.

If an income tax is truly “flat,” filing status wouldn’t matter because a wife is taxed at the same rate as her husband. But Perry’s so-called flat tax isn’t anywhere near flat, so it matters greatly that he offers the same standard allowances to alternative lifestyles as for married couples, allowing, for example, two unrelated adults living with two children to avoid income tax on their first $50,000 of income.

Perry’s spokesman told the Wall Street Journal that “We were very careful to construct this in a way that protects the middle class.” No; giving that size deduction to unmarried parents, defined as “individuals and their dependents,” means rewarding bad behavior and is, by definition, outside the middle class. Regardless of income, you can’t be middle class without respecting middle-class values, the most important of which is marriage.

The anti-family bias of Perry’s tax plan is found to a lesser degree in several other tax reform plans. But Perry has been on probation with pro-family voters since July when he told an elite group of big-money donors in Aspen that he was “fine” with gay marriage in New York because “that’s their business.”