As former pizza magnate Herman Cain has surged in Republican primary polls, his “999” tax plan has received more and more attention — it was mentioned 85 times at last night’s GOP debate — and with the attention has come increasing scrutiny. Center for American Progress Director of Tax and Budget Policy Michael Linden studied the plan last week and revealed that it would explode federal deficits, slice federal revenue, and force the poorest Americans to shoulder the cost of a tax cut for the wealthy.
Others have analyzed Cain’s plan and found similar results, and even conservatives have begun calling major parts of it into question. But today, the “999” plan was dealt its biggest blow when one of Cain’s own economic advisers said it wasn’t a tax plan he would back. While Gary Robbins, who scored the plan for Cain’s campaign and is a paid consultant, praised the plan, he made it clear that it wouldn’t be the plan he picked, Politico reports:
While Robbins praised the idea of 9–9–9, he took steps during an interview to distance himself from its author.
“It’s not a plan that I concocted,” Robbins said. “There’s nothing wrong with the plan, it just wouldn’t be the one I picked.”
Cain has dismissed criticism of his plan as “egregious” and misinformed, but it is telling that a member of his own campaign wouldn’t necessarily back the plan, which was drafted by a Koch-affiliated financial adviser at Wells Fargo, not an actual economist. And though Cain dismissed fellow presidential candidate Rick Santorum’s criticism that the 999 plan would never pass, Robbins agrees with that assessment, telling Politico that the American people would never accept such drastic changes.
Unfortunately, in addition to Robbins’ caveats, there are major problems with Cain’s plan. As Linden noted, it would cut revenue in half and create the largest federal deficits since World War II. It would also raise taxes on the poor to nine times their current rate, and since its 9 percent sales tax also hits food — something only two states currently do at a full sales tax rate — it would hit the poor even harder than already expected.