The PJ Tatler

Cain Tweaks the 9-9-9 Plan

Responding to criticism of his 9-9-9 plan’s impact on the poor, Herman Cain is making some adjustments:

Up to now, Cain has touted a plan to scrap the current taxes on income, payroll, capital gains and corporate profits and replace them with a 9 percent tax on income, a 9 percent business tax and a 9 percent national sales tax. But the plan seems to be unraveling.

“We carved out a substantial amount from the aggregate 9-9-9 plan tax base — enough to exempt those in poverty — and we will work with Congress to best apply these in a way to break the poverty trap and replace it with positive incentives that encourage people to work and take risks in this economy,” Cain said in remarks prepared for delivery Friday outside the once grand — and now unused — Detroit train hub.

Cain’s shift on zero exemptions comes after an independent analysis showed his tax plan would raise taxes on 84 percent of U.S. households. The Tax Policy Center, a Washington think tank, said low- and middle-income families would be hit hardest, with households making between $10,000 and $20,000 seeing their taxes increase by nearly 950 percent.

On the one hand, it’s not a bad thing that Cain is responding to criticism by refining his plan. But on the other, it looks now as though he and his advisers didn’t anticipate which angles the criticism would come from. That suggests that the plan may not have been thoroughly examined before its rollout. And tt’s that “we will work with Congress” part that introduces 9-9-9 greatest weakness. Obviously a President Cain would have to work with Congress to get the plan passed. But just as obviously, unless Cain wins with a massive mandate and drives a very shrewd and dominating effort to push the bill on the hill, Congress will mutilate it. That’s what they do. And Cain is already doing that himself, actually.