This past week, republican presidential candidate Herman Cain has been hit hard over his 9-9-9 tax overhaul plan. During the last Republican debate, Cain's plan was attacked as regressive, meaning that it would hit the middle-class and poor Americans hardest.
As we reported on Tuesday, that's what the Tax Policy Center found — that Cain's plan would increase taxes on those making less than $200,000 but decrease them for those making more than $200,000.
In a campaign stop in Detroit, the former CEO of Godfather's Pizza defended his plan and announced a tweak to it for the poor.
For people living under the poverty line, "your plan isn't 9-9-9, it's 9-0-9," Mr. Cain said in a policy speech in Detroit. "Say amen, y'all. If you are at or below the poverty line...then you don't pay that middle 9" – i.e. the individual flat tax.
Mr. Cain's bold 9-9-9 plan – which includes a 9% individual flat tax, a 9% business flat tax, and a 9% national sales tax – has helped vault him into the top tier of GOP presidential candidates. It's also put tax policy squarely at the heart of the Republican economic-policy debate, and apparently led rival Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, to embrace his own radical rewrite of the tax code this week.
The Detroit News reports that Cain offered further tweaks to his plan, saying for example that struggling areas could get rates set at 3-3-3. Cain called those "empowerment zones." Here's how he explained it:
Cain said his changes would help businesses in areas in need of economic development, such as those facing high unemployment. But he was careful to differentiate them from other efforts, such as community development grants; Cain's plan relies on businesses to work together to create those environments in the neighborhoods, instead of relying on government spending and mandates.
"One of the things that I believe in is empowering cities to help themselves and empowering workers and individuals to help themselves," Cain said in Detroit. "This is not an entitlement program. So the cities will have to step up and remove some of the barriers that are within their city limits, so that the cities do what they can do to help themselves we will have the 9-9-9 legislation so structured that they will get additional benefits."