Just days after saying he might have to change his flat-tax plan, GOP presidential candidate Steve Forbes played down prospects Wednesday for altering his proposal in a way that would shift more of the burden to millionaires like him.
On Sunday, Forbes said "political necessity" might force him to retool the plan to require individuals, rather than businesses, to pay taxes on investment income.
On Wednesday, Forbes shrugged off the comment, telling a Republican luncheon in San Francisco that he was "just twitting" his NBC television interviewer.
"I jocularly said to the person on 'Meet the Press' that if you demagogue the issue of a tax break on investment income, then you're going to create a political climate that will make it very hard to keep it at the business level," Forbes said.
Campaign manager Bill Dal Col said Forbes "has not changed his plan. He has no plans to change his plan."
Forbes, a multimillionaire publisher, has made his flat-tax proposal the centerpiece of a $10-million television advertising campaign that has catapulted him into second place in polls in several early primary states, including Arizona.
At a fund-raiser at the Hyatt Regency in Irvine on Wednesday night, which drew about 300 people, Forbes reiterated his support for the plan.
"American today is a frustrated nation," Forbes said. "No one outside of Washington could have consciously devised something more incomprehensible, more complex, more corrupting, more anti-anything you like, than the tax code we have today."
Forbes, who received several standing ovations, added: "We must begin by changing the culture of Washington. It's not enough to send good people there."