During his teleconference Wednesday with members of Citizens Outreach, Republican presidential contender Herman Cain answered the very question I had: What is to keep your 9-9-9 plan from morphing into 10-10-10? Or even 15-15-15 for that matter?
First he was asked to explain 9-9-9:
“I can explain it in a minute and that’s part of the beauty of it. The 9-9-9 plan is a bold plan to boost economic growth and create jobs in this country. It starts with throwing out the current tax code, because everybody hates and it is a mess and it costs $430 billion a year to file and comply.
“Then we replace it with a 9 percent federal (business) flat tax, a 9 percent personal flat tax on income and a 9 percent national sales tax. Those three taxes would collect the same amount of revenue, which is why they call it revenue neutral.”
He added that it is fair and puts all businesses on the same footing, large and small.
As to why 9-9-9 would not morph into a monster, Cain replied:
“Two things. First, the people, because it is so visible and understandable, if they dare raise the rate and the American people not know about it, well, they’re going to have a tea party on the lawn of the Capitol, OK, on the front steps of the Capitol. The American people are going to hold Congress accountable. That’s Number 1.
“Secondly, in the legislation it is going to require a supermajority to change the 9-9-9 plan. And that means a two-thirds majority vote of the United States Senate.
“Here’s the other thing: When we pass the 9-9-9 plan, that means I’ll be president and that means we will have got our hands around spending in Washington, D.C. That’s the other problem that we have.”
I still have a couple of questions. Would the sales tax be just on goods or would it cover services such as lawyers and barbers? Would it be like a value-added tax in which there is 9 percent tax on wheat, a 9 percent tax on flour, a 9 percent tax on pizza dough and 9 percent on the pizza?
Whatever the answer to those questions is, Cain is, unlike the way many in the media view him, a contender who should be taken seriously, and not just because he won the Florida straw poll or that a Zogby poll has him in the lead by 10 points over his nearest opponent. He has credentials. He has presence and he has bold ideas. Cain is able. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)
Daniel Henninger in today’s Wall Street Journal outlines some of Cain’s business successes and compares his resume against others the media have already crowned as front-runners — though few in the media have any concept of what Republicans want or think or why the tea party sprang up in the first place. They look down their noses and assume “they” must have lower IQs.
“Does a résumé like Herman Cain’s add up to an American presidency?” Henninger asks. “I used to think not. But after watching the American Idol system we’ve fallen into for discovering a president — with opinion polls, tongue slips and media caprice deciding front-runners and even presidents — I’m rewriting my presidential-selection software.”
And that should apply to all the candidates, not just Cain. Sound bites, yes, like 9-9-9, and 30-debate answers and quips, like the neighbor’s dog has created more shovel-ready jobs than Obama, should not be enough.