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Post Partisan
Posted at 07:00 AM ET, 10/17/2011

Herman Cain’s ‘stupid’ defense of his ‘9-9-9’ tax plan


Republican front-runner Herman Cain was on “Meet The Press” yesterday running his mouth, as any one of my relatives might say. He defended his nonsensical “9-9-9” plan. He went on about being against abortion even in the case of rape and incest. And he said that Clarence Thomas is “one of my models” for the ideal Supreme Court justice. But it was host David Gregory’s question to the former Godfather’s Pizza chief about “stupid people” that piqued my interest.

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MR. GREGORY: You’ve also said that stupid people are ruining America.
MR. CAIN: Yes.
MR. GREGORY: Who exactly are you talking about?
MR. CAIN: People who are uninformed. People who will not look at an alternate idea. People who are so dug in with partisanship and partisan politics. Open-mindedness is what’s going to save this country. The reason that my message is appealing is because it’s simple and people can understand it. You know, a good idea transcends party politics. But there are some people who will not even consider 9-9-9 or any other proposal if it’s coming from someone of the opposite political persuasion.

By his own definition, then, Cain is pretty “stupid.” He is “so dug in with partisanship and partisan politics” that he reaffirmed his assertion that “the objective of liberals is to destroy this country.” When Gregory asked him how, Cain said, “Economically.” And added, “It is their mission. Because they do not believe in a stronger America, in my opinion. Yes.” Um, no.

Next example of Cain living up to his definition of “stupid” was his answer on abortion. None of his longed-for “open-mindedness” here. I understand the pro-life position of life beginning at conception and that it should be protected. What I will never understand is the absolutist position of Cain and others that there should be no exceptions for rape or incest. In the case of the life of the mother, Cain is only a tad less heartless. “If it’s the life of the mother, that family’s going to have to make that decision,” he told Gregory. So, in the horrifying scenario of a married woman becoming pregnant as a result of a rape, she should have no choice in what happens, but if her life is in danger, it’s a family decision? Are you kidding me?

Where Cain showed himself to be blindly “stupid” was in his defense of his “9-9-9” plan. Folks on the left, the right and those with no partisan ax to grind have clobbered Cain’s tax plan. The Post Fact Checker gave it three Pinocchios because “the plan he touts as a big tax cut would actually increase taxes on most Americans.” Gregory pressed Cain on this point. Still, he insisted, “Some people will pay more, but most people would pay less.”

But it was in defense of his 9 percent national sales tax that Cain was unwilling to acknowledge that his rationale doesn’t make sense.

Gregory pointed out that the Wall Street Journal warned last week that “A 9 percent rate when combined with state and local levies would mean a tax on goods of 17 percent or more in many places.” With indignation and a straight face, Cain told Gregory, “Don’t combine it with state taxes.”

Now, see if you can make sense of Cain’s argument in this back-and-forth.

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MR. GREGORY: But that doesn’t make any sense to me. If I’m already paying state taxes, and I have a new Cain administration national sales tax, I’ve got more state taxes.
MR. CAIN: No you don’t.
MR. GREGORY: How so?
MR. CAIN: David, David.
MR. GREGORY: You’re not saying they’re going away.
MR. CAIN: Your state taxes are the same. Your federal taxes, in most cases, are going to go down. That’s muddying the water.
MR. GREGORY: The Wall Street Journal says you have one on top of the other. There’s a combined levy.
MR. CAIN: That is not correct, David.
MR. GREGORY: Right.
MR. CAIN: Let’s try this one more time. State taxes are there today. The current tax code is a 10 million word mess. You have probably 100 — you have thousands of loopholes and tricks and what I call “sneak attaxes” in the current code. State taxes today, whatever they are, zero or some number, has nothing to do with replacing the tax code. Nothing.

And there was this bit of head-scratchery. Cain pushed back on criticism that the poor and middle class will pay more in taxes under “9-9-9.” He argued that the “invisible taxes that are built into everything we buy . . . are going to go away.” He said they will be replaced with a 9 percent “visible” tax. And then he explained. I think.

For example, take a loaf of bread. The farmer pays taxes on his profits. The company that makes the flour, the baker, the delivery man. By the time that loaf of bread gets to the grocery store, there are a series of invisible taxes, which are also called embedded taxes. So, in reality, those taxes go away and so the price of goods don’t go up.

But moments later, when asked again “who will pay more,” he said this:

Who will pay more? The people who spend more money on new goods. The sales tax only applies to people who buy new goods, not used goods. That’s a big difference that doesn’t come out.

So, under “9-9-9,” if you buy a used loaf of bread or other used necessities, you will avoid the national sales tax. None of this makes sense. None of it.

Cain believes a President Cain could get “9-9-9” passed. “There is a huge amount of public support for 9-9-9. Just talk to anybody,” he said. “This is what’s going to help us get it passed, the public support.” He must think we’re “stupid.”

By  |  07:00 AM ET, 10/17/2011

 
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