I have liked Herman Cain and have put him in my top tier of Republican hopefuls: Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and Herman Cain – the three principled conservatives in the race. But his interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday took him down a notch or two in my eyes.
First, he failed to give good answers to good questions about his 9-9-9 plan. Chris Wallace asked a very good question that was in my mind about this plan. He’s opening the door on a national sales tax. Once the door is opened on that, how will he restrain Congress from running the rates up? It’s a fair question. Actually, an obvious question. The history of taxes is that once you open the door, the rates always go up. Look at the income tax. It started at 1 to 7 %. State sales taxes were introduced not that long ago at rates around 3%. Now, somehow, rates somewhere near 10% aren’t adequate. Social Security taxes, when they were introduced, were 2%. Now they’re 12.4% and that rate isn’t sufficient to fulfill the promises made. So how is he going to keep his 9-9-9 plan from becoming a 20-30-40 plan?
His answer was naive. Can I say it? Hopelessly naive. In the bill, he’s going to have a provision that requires a 2/3 vote of Congress to raise tax rates. Really? What, Mr. Cain, is going to prevent Congress from going back and amending the original law, which only takes a majority vote?
And then I have several other questions. First, “How are you going to control Congress that tightly, to get this plan through, unmodified?” And, “How can you think that a plan to abolish the IRS, with all the intrenched special interests who need the IRS to survive, will ever pass Congress?” And “When has this specific a plan, proposed by a presidential candidate, ever seen the light of day and actually become law?”
So there is trouble spot #1 for Herman Cain, as far as I am concerned, from this interview. But there is another problem, and that is his handling of the Perry rock story. A very reasonable question whenever The Washington Post comes up with a story like this is, “How much of the story, if any, is actually true?” Especially with a hit piece like this, for which The Post is famous, and which is attributed to anonymous sources. But Cain didn’t pause to ask himself that question, swallowed the whole story, and called Perry “insensitive.” Rush Limbaugh rightly got after Herman Cain for this in his show yesterday. A little more wisdom, a little more perspective, a little more caution, Mr. Cain, would be a good idea.
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