It seems like Michele Bachmann was right. With Herman Cain’s infamous 9-9-9 plan, the devil most certainly is in the details. Even Cain is having a devil of a time.
The plan, which is marketed as a flat 9% income tax, a 9% flat corporate tax and a 9% national sales tax has been widely criticized as being a tax increase on the poor and middle class and a dramatic tax cut on the wealthy and corporations. The poor, it seems, would pay taxes on food, clothing and even rent, essentially on 100% of their income, while the wealthy would skate with no taxes on capital gains and inheritances. The plan would also eliminate payroll taxes, which would by necessity, eliminate Social Security.
overly simplistic pizza marketing scheme simple tax plan just got a little more complicated. Now, he is even granting more tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations by saying that he would retain charitable deductions, which is great news for the struggling charities but of little comfort for lower and middle class people who need every penny they earn just to get by.
He says that the 9% sales tax would not apply to used goods, including used cars and homes. Applying an additional 9% sales tax to new homes but not to “used” homes would prove to be devastating to a struggling new home construction business.
He is also now claiming that he would give businesses deductions for equipment, as long as it’s made in the U.S. When asked about equipment that is made partially in the states, but partially overseas, he replied, “I have no idea.”
Mr. Cain made it clear Wednesday his plan remained a work in progress. Visiting Concord, N.H., he added several new wrinkles. He would preserve the deduction for charitable donations, making the flat income tax not so flat; he would exempt any used goods, including previously owned homes and cars, from the national sales tax; and he would allow businesses to deduct new equipment purchases from their 9% corporate income tax, as long as the goods were U.S.-made.
Asked how that would apply to a computer designed domestically but containing Malaysian components and assembled in China, he replied, “I have no idea.”
Economists, including George Bush and Ronald Reagan policy advisor, Bruce Bartlett, called it a “distributional monstrosity.”
At a minimum, the Cain plan is a distributional monstrosity. The poor would pay more while the rich would have their taxes cut, with no guarantee that economic growth will increase and good reason to believe that the budget deficit will increase.
Giving further credence to my own speculation that he 9-9-9 plan was thought up by his pizza marketing team, Cain is refusing to divulge the names of the economists that helped craft the plan. The one name he will admit to is Rich Lowrie, board member of the Koch brother’s think tank, Americans for Prosperity. Lowrie holds a bachelor’s degree in accountancy and he works for a Wells Fargo bank branch in Ohio.
Even Cain’s own economic policy advisor said it wouldn’t have been the plan he went with.