MURRELLS INLET, SC -- Hoping that his military credentials will offer him a boost in South Carolina's sizable veterans community, Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Tuesday proposed a tax break for returning wounded soldiers "to help to get their lives back."
At a VFW hall outside of Myrtle Beach, the Texas governor suggested that "post 9/11" veterans certified as wounded by the Department of Defense should receive a five year exemption from paying a personal income tax.
"If you sacrificed that much for your country, the least this country can do is give you that type of support when you come back," he told about 50 audience members in the hall.
Perry, the son of World War II tailgunner and himself an Air Force veteran, is the only candidate in the field other than former flight surgeon Ron Paul to have served in the military. He was accompanied Tuesday by South Carolina native and Medal of Honor recipient Lt. Mike Thornton.
As the governor of Texas in 2009, Perry signed into law a full property tax exemption for veterans who are classified as 100 percent disabled.
In remarks that contained no specific critiques of his opponents, Perry said that the tax break would be an enduring message about the value of military sacrifice.
"That’s sending the message. That’s sending the message that will last longer than a parade, that will last longer than a proclamation on the war, than a pat on the back," he said.
After his remarks, Perry spoke at length with attendees, telling one questioner that he would seek to eliminate the Small Business Administration.
"I''d just do away with them," he told a man who complained that the SBA was "all talk."
President Barack Obama proposed last week to consolidate the SBA, the Commerce Department, and numerous other trade and business agencies. He also elevated the head of the SBA to a cabinet-level position.