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Saturday, October 15, 2011

9-9-9 And The Challenge For Cain's GOP Opponents

Oct 15th, 2011

Dave Weigel explains:

"The Republican voters who love 9-9-9 believe the same things that the old Forbes devotees believed. They believe that other Americans are paying no net income taxes, and they don’t think it’s fair. They know how much time they have to spend figuring out all of their deductions, and so a simple code—Forbes promised a tax form that could fit on a postcard—would solve their problem. Cain got a handle on that sentiment early, using it in this ad for his campaign for a U.S. Senate seat in Georgia in 2004. “The United States tax code,” he said. “It’s an 8-million-word mess!”

Cain’s rivals have to engage in a little bit of deprogramming. They must convince voters who think that the tax code is stacked against them of the truth: That complicated code is wasting some time while saving a lot of money. After the debate, NBC News’ Domenico Montanaro checked one of Cain’s claims—that a family pulling in $50,000 currently pays $10,000 in taxes. As Cain would say, the problem with that analysis is that it’s incorrect. With the grab bag of deductions left in place by Bush and Obama reforms, that family pays $766 in taxes. According to the professional rain-on-parade economist Bruce Bartlett, the first stage of 9-9-9 would do what it sounds like—it would increase the cost of living for poor people by 9 percent. Either Cain is right, and the supercharged economy would bail them out, or Cain is wrong, and they’ll be worse off than ever.

So how has Cain gotten so far on this idea?

"It’s a rejection of redistributionist tax policy," says Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, who is doing his gentle best to point out that 9-9-9’s a bad idea. "No one has done the calculations, so people are reacting viscerally to the idea. A single rate flat tax is a very attractive thing."

It’s attractive because it tells conservative voters what they already believe: Tax the free-loaders, simplify the forms, and the rest of the problems take care of themselves. To take Cain down, Republicans have to blow up the anti-tax arguments of 30 years."

Good luck with that, GOP.

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