Cain’s ‘9-9-9′ plan in focus at Republican debate

October 12, 2011

The buzz word was definitely “9-9-9″ in Tuesday’s Republican debate at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire that focused on economic issues.

During the debate, the catchphrase 9-9-9 was mentioned 25 times (including 16 times by the man who conceived it — Herman Cain).

“I think it’s a catchy phrase. In fact, I thought it was the price of a pizza when I first heard about it,” said Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor and former ambassador to China.

9-9-9 has nothing to do with pizza, even though Cain is best known on the campaign trail as the former CEO of the Godfather’s Pizza chain.

It’s a tax proposal Cain is promoting as his remedy for what’s ailing the U.S. economy. It would replace the current tax code with a 9 percent corporate tax, a 9 percent income tax and a 9 percent national sales tax.

“9-9-9 will pass, and it is not the price of a pizza, because it has been well-studied and well-developed… And it will pass, Senator, because the American people want it to pass,” Cain said defending his plan after Huntsman criticized it as not feasible.

Texas Governor Rick Perry was fixated on his own plan for restoring America’s economic health.

“And let me tell you, we are sitting on this absolute treasure trove of energy in this country. And I don’t need 999. We don’t need any plan to pass Congress,” Perry said, adding that he would unveil his proposal over the next three days.

Cain’s 9-9-9 slogan may be making sense to potential Republican voters and helping him gain traction in the polls. He’s climbed to the top tier of the 2012 Republican presidential hopefuls since a surprise victory in last month’s Florida straw poll. Google search hits on 9-9-9 spiked when Cain mentioned the term during the Fox News/Google debate on Sept. 23.

Michele Bachmann — Minnesota congresswoman and former IRS attorney — saw no good in Cain’s proposal for a 9 percent sales tax. She said it would just open up another revenue stream for Congress.

“One thing I would say is, when you take the 999 plan and you turn it upside down, I think the devil is in the details,” Bachmann said.

Under the rules spelled out at the beginning of the debate, each time a candidate was singled out by name for criticism, they would have 30 seconds to respond.

“So if you keep mentioning “999” and Herman Cain, I’m going to have to go back to him every other question,” moderator Charlie Rose at one point reminded Rick Santorum, after the former Pennsylvania senator challenged Cain’s economic plan.

Additional writing by JoAnne Allen

Photo Credit: REUTERS/Adam Hunger (Republican presidential candidates watch a video of  Cain during  debate at Dartmouth College)


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I just keep coming back to Rick Perry. Do we really want a man in the Oval Office who doesn’t have respect for the diverse population of the country he wants to lead? He wasn’t intelligent enough to deal with the inappropriate name of a camp, last week. And this week, he doesn’t have the intestinal fortitude to stand up and tell his “pastor” that he was insulting and out of line. The only thing that could be worse is that he truly found nothing wrong enough to take action in either case. So he’s either not smart enough to even look into the Oval Office, much less sit behind the desk, or he is a bigot who will not have the best interests of the American people at heart if they don’t look like he does, or believe as he does. Either way, he is not President material. Come on people, we deserve better than this piece of work.

Posted by Opus46 | Report as abusive

It was really nice to see the candidates focus on economics. Not all of them seem to know what they’re taling about in that field. Who did the best?

POLL: Who won the October 11th GOP New Hampshire (Washington Post / Bloomberg TV) debate?

Posted by Zadoc_Paet | Report as abusive

Cain’s out. This will punish everyone who has saved their money. They have already paid tax on everything they have saved and now they will have to pay a 9% National sales tax. Talk about a way to get people to stop spending money.

Posted by minipaws | Report as abusive

RINOs like Perry & Romney need to become extinct. People who tell you what they think you want to hear and do something completely different based on their own hidden agenda should not be trusted.

Posted by ki-ote | Report as abusive

The 999 plan would be the biggest tax break yet for the ultra-rich and the mega-corporations, and be the last nail in the coffin of the working class. 9% national sales tax combined with state and local taxes in most areas would bring sales tax to almost 15%. That would be completely devastating to working families. Cain brings nothing new to the GOP table. 999 is a new face on the same old plan: tax cuts for the rich and screw the middle class.

Posted by 4ngry4merican | Report as abusive

Many of you have, no doubt, already read this quote from Herman Cain himself: “Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks, if you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself.” I have a hard time imagining that this sort of attitude will go over well with anyone in the middle class on the left, right, or anywhere in between. We may all have differing views on how to get out of this mess, but I think we all agree that it was NOT working class people who got us into it.

Posted by shorttnstout | Report as abusive

I disagree with 4ngry4merican. Currently, there is NO sales tax for companies selling over the internet across state lines. Is that fair? The competition between a brick and mortar store and Amazon SHOULD be based on who provides the best product/service for lowest price, i.e. who provides the better VALUE. But the fact that brick and mortar stores pay an 8% sales tax and Amazon pays NONE, is unfair to begin with. It also means that our downtowns are dying as huge corporations leverage the unfair tax structure to their benefit.

Posted by Chris49 | Report as abusive

@shortnstout – You would think that would be true. Unfortunately as long as Republicans follow this crap up with “ban abortion, ban gay marriage, evolution is a lie and God bless America” half of our electorate swallows it whole and asks for seconds.

Posted by 4ngry4merican | Report as abusive

@Chris49 – What in the world does the fairness or unfairness of Amazon have to do with Cain’s plan? Under the 999 plan the brick and mortar stores you seem to care so much about would see their sales taxes go from the 8% you quote to almost 15%. What do you think that will do to their competitiveness?

Posted by 4ngry4merican | Report as abusive

Folks, the raw plan attempts to be revenue neutral on the Fed side, and reduce all Federal income tax to a flat 9% on the taxpayer side. Yes, Federal sales tax goes to 9% plus local taxes…call it 17%.

But the taxpayer (and employer) save on the income tax side. Average Joe goes from 15% rate to 9% = 6% savings plus FICA currently 6.2% = 12.2%…so he’s paying 9% more when he buys something but he’s got 12.2% more cash in his pocket to buy it with.

Mr Cain himself says it’s just a starting point, there will be discussion and modifications if he is elected. The real issue is, our Tax Code and the IRS are less efficient than even the Post Office. Endless mandates, byzantine code that cost American business $billions if not $trillions for compliance. Nobody understands it, it’s horsecrap.

I’ll tell you this, I’m a small businessman with 10 employees, and I treat them and they treat me like gold.
We’re voting for Mr. Cain and I’ll bet you good money so are a whole bunch of other moderate hard working Americans who are tired of “monkey business as usual”, left and right in Washington.

Herman Cain 2012-get on board or get out of the way because here we come.

Posted by CaptnCrunch | Report as abusive

CaptnCrunch – Do yourself a favor and do a little more research. Google “999 plan” and you’ll find page after page after page of economists (not politicians) who explain in detail how Cain’s plan would be a huge tax cut for the wealthy and a huge tax increase (by 100% in a lot of cases) on working families. A Herman Cain administration would absolutely be the last nail in the coffin of America’s middle class.

Posted by 4ngry4merican | Report as abusive

Seems like a lot of dogma for a plan that even as Cain points out is not fully developed. All that is known for sure is that it generates roughly the same amount of income as the current tax code and is simpler.

As far as internet taxes and other details, there are no specifics.

The argument concerning tax breaks for the wealthy cracks me up, personally. Why not check in on the 51% of Americans who don’t pay income tax at all? Being low income myself, I pay plenty of taxes. And I think it is unfair to expect wealthy citizens to pay a higher percentage of their income than I do. After all, percentages level the field, it’s why we use them.

Posted by crosmuse18 | Report as abusive

Or, just play “Sim City” for a few hours, and you will see where HErman Cain gets his ideas on tax policy.

Posted by GetpIaning | Report as abusive ents/2011/oct/13/herman-cain/herman-cain -says-someone-earning-50000-will-save-u/

Posted by 4ngry4merican | Report as abusive

Herman Cain’s 9 9 9 plan contains two phases with two “enhancement” phases. Everyone is whining about the Fox News claim that 47% of Americans pay no taxes and that is unfair. Well, they don’t pay taxes because they earn too little and with standard deductions (like everyone else gets the advantage of) they owe nothing. Cain’s plan would do this to them immediately;

9% federal income tax plus 9% tax on everything you buy including food with no deductions of any kind (except charitable donations) for ANYONE. Therefore the bottom tax rate for the poor would effectively be somewhere between 12-18%.

The majority of persons worth 100 million or more AND the majority of individuals earning 10 million a year or more pay rate a of … 18% according to the I.R.S. Those people and companies under Cain’s plan would immediately owe- NOTHING ANYMORE. Yes, the rich and super rich would pay no taxes anymore under 9 9 9. Under the plan companies that pay compensation in shares of stock will be able to expense 100% of that. Companies that then divide profits into a dividend(also expensible) would pay zero taxes. Individuals being paid by dividends from their shares would pay nothing. Remember, these people now account for 40% of the tax base with individuals earning 100% of their annual income from dividends (396 of the 400 richest Americans) paying 25% of all federal income tax.

The “enhancements” would include no more taxing overseas profits at all. Inspiring a wave of off-shoring American jobs as companies eliminate (are rewarded) for doing business overseas. Eventually (as in 1 to 2 years) all corporate income taxes would be eliminated as well as personal income tax but deductions would also be gone (spousal, mortgage interest, dependents etc.). The lost revenue will be replaced with an expansion (read increase) in the new National Sales Tax. The National Sales Tax if figured as a match to total annual government budget now would need to be 30% if applied to G.D.P. There is one major problem with this, the G.D.P. includes business to business transactions which will be non-taxable under 9 9 9. It also includes 1.3 trillion in discretionary spending by government, take out both of those figures and you get roughly 5 to 7 trillion of taxable revenue.

The National Sales Tax would need to increase to 60-80%.

Amazingly that is what the projected inflationary increase Americans would pay for goods under a VAT tax, National Sales Tax plan as put forward under Republicans in the past. So the poor AND the middle class would see their tax burden doubled so that the wealthy and large corporations could stop paying ANY taxes.

“PAY YOUR FAIR SHARE POOR PEOPLE, PAY YOUR FAIR SHARE MIDDLE CLASS.” screams the lemmings who listen to Fox New’s lobbying campaign for the rich.

Posted by davemowers | Report as abusive