From Timothy Egan at Opinionator at The New York Times:
By almost any measure — social, political, economic, logical — Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 tax plan is nuts, nuts, nuts. Go ahead and jack up the price of nearly everything that moves in the United States with a 9 percent national sales tax on all new purchases and services. Talk about instant branding: every time you buy something, you’ll be hit with the Herm Cain tax at the checkout line.
And this is just the start. The nearly 50 million filers whose main federal tax is now a payroll deduction and not an income tax would see their overall bill from the government increase by nearly 100 percent. This conclusion comes from the economists and fact-checkers who have actually looked at the napkin sketch of a plan Cain got from some accountant friend of his in Cleveland.
In essence, Cain is proposing the largest shift in tax burden from the wealthy to the poor and middle class in the nation’s history. Oh, and he apparently would scrap the two great government programs that keep millions clinging to fragile middle-class status — Social Security and Medicare — because he wants to eliminate the payroll taxes that now pay for those insurers of dignity.
Not to worry: fruit flies on a bad apple have a longer life than does a front-runner among Republican presidential candidates. Cain’s reign will be short because his central plan is pure craziness, even for Republicans.
Let’s say you buy a new car or a week’s worth of groceries, or pay $2,000 for your kid’s dental work. Cain would add 9 percent to the price of those transactions — on top of the 9 percent in sales taxes people already pay in some states, like Washington, where I live. And if you’re lower middle class, there would be no income tax offset — but an increase!
That’s the Cain platform: raise the price of everything in the worse economic crisis since the Great Depression.
Cain tops the polls because almost three-quarters of Republican primary voters cannot come around to their likely nominee, Mitt Romney. And the rest of the field lose voters every time they open their mouths.
The power of his plan, Cain replies to all criticism, is its simplicity. “I can explain it in a minute!” he says. But someone who has taken more than a minute with 9-9-9 — Bruce Bartlett, the former economic adviser to Presidents Reagan and George H. W. Bush — has called it “insane.” Read his examination in his Times blog here.
From Amanda Terkel at THE HUFFINGTON POST:
WASHINGTON — In Herman Cain’s America, the tax code would be very, very simple: The corporate income tax rate would be 9 percent, the personal income tax rate would be 9 percent and the national sales tax rate would be 9 percent.
But there’s already a 999 plan out there, in a land called SimCity.
Long before Cain was running for president and getting attention for his 999 plan, the residents of SimCity 4 — which was released in 2003 — were living under a system where the default tax rate was 9 percent for commercial taxes, 9 percent for industrial taxes and 9 percent for residential taxes. (That is, of course, if you didn’t use the cheat codes to get unlimited money and avoid taxes altogether.)
Kip Katsarelis, a senior producer for Maxis, the company that created the SimCity series, was excited that politicians may be looking to video games for ideas.
“We encourage politicians to continue to look to innovative games like SimCity for inspiration for social and economic change,” said Katsarelis. “While we at Maxis and Electronic Arts do not endorse any political candidates or their platforms, it’s interesting to see GOP candidate Herman Cain propose a simplified tax system like one we designed for the video game SimCity 4.”
When asked about similarities between Cain’s plan and SimCity’s default tax rates, Cain campaign spokesman JD Gordon replied, “Well, we all like 9-9-9.”
Rich Lowrie, the Ohio Wells Fargo employee who is the brains behind Cain’s plan, did not return a request for comment regarding whether he is a fan of SimCity and looked to the game for inspiration.
A receptionist at Lowrie’s Wells Fargo office said she doubted his idea came from SimCity. “Probably not,” she told The Huffington Post. “I don’t think he’s much of a game person.”