Rick Perry proposes flat tax, privatizing Social Security

Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry proposed dramatic tax and spending changes Tuesday, saying he’d let Americans choose between a 20 percent flat tax and the current system, allow private Social Security accounts and slash government spending and regulation.

Perry, seeking to regain the momentum he enjoyed in late August, said his plan would significantly spur economic growth. But analysts from both the left and right said he would need draconian federal budget cuts to avoid massive deficits.

In a pitch to conservatives, the Texas governor said his “Cut, Balance and Grow” plan was bolder than what his Republican rivals or President Obama would do.

The heart of Perry’s plan would reduce or eliminate an array of taxes. He would end taxes on Social Security benefits, estates, dividends and capital gains, which would most help upper-income people. He would lower the corporate income tax rate as well as the personal income tax rate for those who choose his 20 percent flat rate.


Average yearly college cost tops $17,000, reports find

Nationally, the cost of a full credit load has passed $8,000, an all-time high. Throw in room and board, and the average list price for a state school now runs more than $17,000 a year, according to the twin annual reports on college costs and student aid published today by the College Board.

Helping drive the national numbers were huge tuition increases at public universities in California, which enrolls 10 percent of public four-year college students and whose 21 percent tuition increase this year was the largest of any state.

But even without California, prices would have increased 7 percent on average nationally – an exceptional burden at a time of high unemployment and stagnant family incomes.

The large increase in federal grants and tax credits for students, on top of stimulus dollars that prevented greater state cuts, helped keep the average tuition-and-fees that families actually pay much lower: about $2,490, or just $170 more than five years ago. But the days of states and families relying on budget relief from Washington appear numbered.


Complications of surgery send Rooney to hospital

Andy Rooney, who delivered his last essay on “60 Minutes” three weeks ago, was in the hospital Tuesday after developing serious complications following minor surgery.

CBS said the writer’s condition was stable and, at the request of his family, offered no other information about his medical problems or where he was hospitalized.

The three-time Emmy winner was a regular presence on television’s most popular newsmagazine.

Since 1978, “A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney” wrapped up the Sunday night program, often with a look at the absurdities of life and language.

On Oct. 2, Rooney, 92, delivered his 1,097th and final essay, saying it was a moment he dreaded.
“I wish I could do this forever. I can’t, though,” he said.

He’s also had a long career as a writer, and that’s how he saw himself. He worked for the military newspaper Stars and Stripes and wrote four books about World War II.


Ex-presidential hopeful hospitalized for fatigue

Former Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern has been hospitalized for fatigue in South Dakota, a hospital spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Jullie Ward, a spokeswoman for Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls, said the former senator was admitted to the Sioux Falls hospital for fatigue after completing a lecture tour. She said doctors expect him to make a full recovery and be released in a couple of days.

The 89-year-old McGovern, a South Dakota congressman from 1957 to 1961 and U.S. senator from 1963 to 1981, ran for president against incumbent Richard Nixon in 1972 and lost in a historic landslide.


Police: 9-year-old again drove for drinking dad

For the second time this month, authorities have charged a father with allowing his 9-year-old child to be a designated driver.

Nathan Walter Sikkenga, 31, of Gillette, Wyo., told troopers with the Florida Highway Patrol in Orlando on Saturday that he and his wife “were under the influence of alcohol” and instructed their son to drive the van, according to an arrest report released Tuesday.

The van crashed into a security gate arm bar. An Orange County Sheriff’s deputy who witnessed the crash told responding troopers that a child was behind the wheel and the father was sitting in the front passenger seat, the report states.

Sikkenga was charged with felony child endangerment. No current telephone listing could be found for Sikkenga, and it wasn’t immediately known whether he had an attorney. He was let out on bond.

On Oct. 8, police say a Detroit-area man had his 9-year-old daughter drive him to the store because he had been drinking. Surveillance video from a gas station shows him telling a clerk that his daughter was his designated driver.


PETA lawsuit says SeaWorld enslaves performing whales

In an unprecedented lawsuit, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is accusing the SeaWorld marine parks of keeping five of its star-performer killer whales in conditions that violate the 13th Amendment ban on slavery.

PETA says the suit, to be filed today in U.S. District Court in San Diego, is the first federal court case seeking constitutional rights for members of an animal species.

The chances of the suit succeeding are slim, according to legal experts not involved in the case. But the case is likely to enliven a debate over expansion of animal rights that’s already bubbling at law schools across the country.

Sea World defended the care that it provides to the orcas and depicted the lawsuit as baseless.

– From news service reports

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