Santorum In Fort Worth: 'Explode' The Tax Code | KERA News

Santorum In Fort Worth: 'Explode' The Tax Code

Oct 12, 2015

Presidential candidate Rick Santorum was in Fort Worth on Monday to give a talk to the World Affairs Council of Dallas-Fort Worth, unveiling a tax plan that he says will ease the burden on working families and simplify the tax code by creating a single tax bracket and reducing the number of personal deductions to two.

The former senator from Pennsylvania has run before; after his 2012 bid for the Republican nomination, he took a job running a Christian filmmaking company based in Flower Mound. Santorum surprised many four years ago by running a fairly threadbare campaign and riding grassroots enthusiasm to a win in the Iowa Caucuses. He had broad conservative evangelical support to thank for that. This time around, though he’s polling poorly in the crowded race.

  At the Fort Worth Club, a hundred people were ready to hear Santorum's pitch. They were mostly older, and white, save for a table of seventh graders in red cardigans and a handful of teens from Denton.

With the ease and conviction of a seasoned campaigner, Santorum said the GOP hasn’t done a good job of grappling with the problems poor and working class people have to deal with. He folded his message into three easy-to-remember principles: Strengthen the family, reward and dignify work, and put the free back in free market.

“You have workers whose wages have flatlined, good-paying jobs have moved overseas and they don’t see a way up,” Santorum said, explaining the hopelessness he hears when he talks to Americans on the campaign trail. “Then you have small businesses who are thwarted by government regulations and oppressive taxes, and they don’t see a way in.”

The tax plan he rolled out was markedly straightforward, even moreso than the one he proposed in 2012: Everyone including businesses would pay a 20 percent income tax rate. Everyone would get a $2,750 income tax credit, and the only deductions left on the books would be for charitable giving and mortgage interest.

“My plan is the first and only truly flat tax,” he said. “Our plan will stop tinkering once and for all, and explode the code.”

Santorum said his plan would add $1.1 trillion to the deficit on its own, but he thinks he can pay for it all by repealing the Affordable Care Act.

“The explanation of the flat tax was the best I’ve heard,” Emil Freiburg from Fort Worth. “It had more logic to it and I’ve thought it’s something we’ve needed for a long time.”

“I like his ideas and what he has to say,” said Linda Bush of Fort Worth. She said she wasn’t a Santorum voter four years ago, and didn’t expect to be this year. But hearing his focus on strengthening the family won her over.

North Texas is familiar territory to Santorum. After losing the 2012 Republican primary to Mitt Romney, Santorum took the top job at a Christian film company in Flower Mound.
Credit Christopher Connelly/KERA

  For red cardigan-clad Citlalli Orozco and Trinity Crockett, 12-year-olds who were part of a group from the World Languages Institute in Fort Worth, Santorum’s tax plan wasn’t so interesting. Instead, it was his plan to reduce the number of immigrants entering the US that got them talking. They thought his immigration plan sounded like it would keep immigrant families apart, which they found contradictory given his focus on strengthening families to help improve student test scores and worker productivity.

“If you leave your family in another country it might be hard for you,” Orozco started out. Crockett finished her sentence: “To stay together or stay as one because that’s your family and you’ll feel bad about leaving the country that you were born in or that you were raised in.”

Santorum’s proposal to end programs to allow immigrants to bring over their extended families would have divided Shivani Shah’s Indian-American family. The Democrat-leaning 17-year-old will be 18 come election time. While some of his message worked for her, Shah says Santorum seems a bit out of touch with her increasingly multicultural generation.

“There is a growing number of people like me coming to America that are participating in the work force, that will be our CEOs,” Shah said. “I think that’s important to remember.”

North Texas is familiar territory to Santorum. After losing the 2012 Republican primary to Mitt Romney, Santorum took the top job at a Christian film company in Flower Mound. 

He’s also made campaign stops in these parts – in June he swung through to speak, fundraise and pick up a key to the city from Roanoke’s mayor. 

Santorum will be back in North Texas on Sunday for a candidates’ forum at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano.