Posted at 11:45 PM ET, 10/11/2011

Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 guru revealed at Republican debate

Herman Cain played it close to the vest at the Republican debate on Tuesday night, saying, for instance, that he had two Federal Reserve chairmen-in-waiting that he didn’t want to reveal. And what about other advisers he listens to?

Did a team of economists vet and help craft the 9-9-9 tax plan that is at the centerpiece ofthe businessman and former Godfather’s pizza CEO’s candidacy?


HANOVER, NH: On the way to the candidate debate Spin Room led by debate staffer, Eileen McMenamin, Herman Cain, left, does a walk thru forthe debate. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post) (Melina Mara - THE WASHINGTON POST)
Apparently Cain only wants to reveal a team of one at the moment, naming Rich Lowrie (not to be confused with National Review writer Rich Lowry) as the guru behind the ceaselessly-hyped plan. Back in March, Post blogger Jennifer Rubin interviewed the wealth-management consultant, who is not an economist, and said it was tough to get answers out of Cain’s 9-9-9 man.

Rubin writes of Lowrie and the Cain economic plan:

His 9 percent sales tax has already been criticized by [former Sen. Rick] Santorum and conservative tax gurus. Lowrie says that the tax would have no exemptions. That means food, rent, everything would be subject to the tax. But doesn’t this sock it to the poor and middle class?

Lowrie insists it doesn’t because other “embedded” taxes (corporate taxes, payroll taxes) would be repealed. But most experts think the math here doesn’t work. Lowrie is unconcerned about the enforcement issues and the potential for off-the-books transactions. He insists that, with only a 9 percent rate, we could largely rely on “voluntary compliance.” He insists that politicians would find it hard to raise the sales tax because the rate would be clear to everyone. (Spoken like someone who’s never had a conversation with congressional Democrats.)

Here’s how Cain described Lowrie at Tuesday’s debate:

“One of my experts that helped me to develop this is a gentleman by the name of Rich Lowrie out of Cleveland, Ohio. He is an economist, and he has worked in the business of wealth creation most of his career,” Cain said during the debate.

“I also have a number of other well-recognized economists that helped me to develop this 9-9-9 plan. It didn’t come off a pizza box, no. It was well-studied and well-developed, because it will replace the corporate income tax, the personal income tax, the capital gains tax, the death tax, and most importantly, the payroll tax.”

Asked who those other “well-recognized” economists were, Cain named Lowrie, who desribes himself as Cain’s senior economic adviser, but not an economist on his Twitter profile..

By  |  11:45 PM ET, 10/11/2011

 
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