Cain Flips His Own Script . . . With 9-0-9

Originally published by Politic365 here.   After drawing more criticism than praise from the release of his 9-9-9 plan, the Cain Train made a clarification this past week hoping to stymie […]

Originally published by Politic365 here.  

After drawing more criticism than praise from the release of his 9-9-9 plan, the Cain Train made a clarification this past week hoping to stymie many of the loudest voices.

The “9” drawing the most heat, the one that could raise the personal taxes of the poorest in the country from 0% to 9%, has been dropped to zero if your family is currently living “below the poverty line.”

A 0% federal income tax rate for those below the poverty line has “always been part of the Cain plan,” according to his campaign.  But after getting pummeled by opponents since moving to front-runner status, Cain decided, in his uniquely simplistic and plain-spoken manner, to clarify.

Art Laffer, noted economist and member of President Reagan’s Economic Advisory Board, recently pointed out the misunderstanding in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece.  “[Cain’s] 9-9-9 plan has made certain that even on static terms those below the poverty line will be better off—period. Once the dynamics take hold, many of those below the poverty line will find good jobs and thus will rise above the poverty line and start paying taxes,” said Laffer.

But even conservative news sources such as the National Review Online have denounced some of the positive comments as “nonsense.” According to Josh Barro of NRO, “Without a poverty grant, 9-9-9 leads to a huge tax increase on the poor. The Tax Policy Center found that 9-9-9 would take the average federal tax rate on households in the bottom quintile from 1.9 percent to 20.2 percent, an increase of $1,854 per household.”

Since the CNN debate, Cain has also drawn both fire and ridicule for his mention of “empowerment” or “business opportunity” zones.  Reason: no one has seen either described in detail in any of the campaign’s literature.

Yet, speaking in front of a group of supporters recently, Cain described his “business opportunity” zone concept as a specifically-designated area where businesses will be able to deduct a portion of their payroll taxes.

“All businesses in the ‘opportunity zone,’ not some, will be able to take advantage of the cost reductions,” claimed Cain.  “[The plan] will empower cities and individuals to help themselves. Cities will remove barriers to help themselves.”

Many believed that the elimination of payroll taxes was part of Cain’s plan from the beginning, and rightly so.  When describing the 9-9-9 plan, Cain’s website states that the plan “Removes all payroll taxes.”  Art Laffer concurs that the plan will “replace the current income tax, corporate tax, payroll tax (employer and employee), capital gains tax and estate tax.”

Cain may be right by claiming that no one, even Romney himself, can easily explain all of the merits of Romney’s 59-point plan. But, the relatively simplistic nature of 9-9-9 is and may continue to be the root cause for more heat and headache, causing even the most ardent supporters to wonder: “Is 9-9-9 just too good to be true?”