MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Former Gov. Tommy Thompson proposed sweeping revisions to the federal tax code and ex-U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann promised to impose congressional term limits as the two worked Monday to separate themselves from a crowded field of Republican U.S. Senate hopefuls.
Thompson, who served as Wisconsin's governor from 1987 to 2001, released a four-page outline that began by declaring that the current federal tax system is dysfunctional and stems from decades of "political manipulation and special-interest pandering."
His proposal includes limiting federal revenue to 18.5 percent of the gross domestic product, making former President George W. Bush's tax cuts permanent and phasing in a flat tax. Individuals would have the option of filing a single-page tax form with a flat 15 percent rate. After two years, Thompson would move to an across-the-board flat tax.
He also would exempt all households earning less than $100,000 from capital gains taxes, eliminate federal taxes on Social Security income and simplify the federal corporate income tax to two brackets, 25 percent and 10 percent. Thompson also promised to work to eliminate taxes on foreign profits U.S. businesses invest in domestic plants, job training and research.
"Pretty damn good," Thompson said of his plan in a telephone interview. "My whole tax program ... is to make our country more aggressive, more job friendly and grow the economy."
Neumann, meanwhile, called a brief news conference with reporters in the state Capitol rotunda to release his "Clean Up Washington" plan. He vowed to push for a 12-year term limit for Congress, although he said he would exempt current members if they've already served more than 12 years.
He also said he would work to strip former members of Congress of their federal pension and benefits if they become lobbyists and push a bill that would require every piece of legislation to specify what section of the U.S. Constitution authorizes it. That change alone would dramatically reshape how Washington operates by stopping lawmakers from overstepping their powers, Neumann said, citing the landmark federal health care law as a prime example of lawmakers going too far.
Thompson, Neumann, state Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald and hedge fund investor Eric Hovde all are vying for the GOP nomination to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, a Democrat. Voters will pick a nominee in an Aug. 14 primary election.
U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin of Madison is the only Democrat running for the seat. She'll square off against the Republican primary winner in the Nov. 6 general election.
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