David Gregory announced Herman Cain will be going on Meet the Press this Sunday. Good. It’s about time he started answering some questions, rather than blustering his way through with a dismissive “You’re wrong” every time a flaw in his 9-9-9 plan is raised. Gregory is a tough interviewer, but I thought it would be helpful to put together a list of questions to which readers, critics, voters and journalists have not gotten straight answers.
Let’s start with foreign policy. Why should we go from one novice to another? When this campaign started he didn’t know what the “right of return” is; Did he not have any interest in national security? What should be the appropriate level of defense spending? He’s says he’d talk to “experts” about Iran’s plot, but when they disagree what basis of knowledge will he have to decide the correct policy?
In the campaign he said he’d insist on an oath from Muslims before taking them into his administration. What is his understanding of the Constitutional prohibition against religious tests? Does he repudiate the religious bigotry of Pastor Robert Jeffress?
On his 9-9-9 plan he won’t reveal the names of advisors. Is that the way his administration will run — in secrecy? Does he think candidates and public officials need to be transparent? Are any of these people economists or former government officials? He said Rich Lowrie is his top economist, but Lowrie’s not an economist at all, is he? Doesn’t he just work in a Wells Fargo branch bank?
As to the merits of the plan, both NBC and ABC have run the numbers and found he’s wrong in claiming middle income taxpayers would pay less under his plan. Does he acknowledge his error? If he got that fundamental issue wrong should he junk the plan? His advisor Lowrie says progressivity is irrelevant and besides the campaign is going to come out with a new “empowerment zone” plan. Who is right — Lowrie or Cain?
His sales tax exempts “used” goods. How many new tax inspectors would it take to police fraudulent “used” sales that seek to evade the tax? Everyone from Freedom Works to Grover Norquist to Rick Santorum has decried the idea of giving the feds another revenue stream. Are you naive about the ability of Congress and future presidents to hike this to 12-12-12 or 30-30-30?
You say the plan would make exports more competitive. But exports don’t pay a VAT now and they wouldn’t under your plan. Here at home both imports and domestic manufactured goods would pay the tax. How does that make us more competitive?
Would you have seen someone for cancer treatment who never worked a day in his life in medicine? Why is complete ignorance of government an asset when you’ll be dealing with opponents in Congress, lobbyists, foreign leaders and the like?
Do you support the Chinese currency legislation? Would you have supported the TAA?
Can you look the American people in the eye and say you’re ready to be president?