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Herman Cain on Tax Reform

Republican Businessman & Talk-Show Host


Tax codes don't raise taxes; politicians do

Q: How do you ensure that, when the government needs more revenue, that the sales tax doesn't go up and that your 9-9-9 plan doesn't turn in 19-19-19?

CAIN: Tax codes do not raise taxes. Politicians do. And as long as the people will hold the politicians' feet to the fire, it's not the code that raises taxes, it's the politicians. The approach, 9-9-9, would be very visible, the American people are going to hold the rates at 9.

Source: 2011 CNBC GOP Primary debate in Rochester MI , Nov 9, 2011

9-9-9 "Opportunity Zones" addresses issue of low-income

Q: A lot of prominent conservatives now are coming forward saying that your 9-9-9 plan would actually raise taxes on middle-class voters, on lower-income voters.

CAIN: It is a jobs plan, it is revenue-neutral, it does not raise taxes on those that are making the least. The reason that our plan is being attacked so much is because lobbyists & politicians don't want to throw out the current tax code and put in something that's simple and fair. They want to continue to be able to manipulate the American people with a 10-million-word mess.

SANTORUM: Reports are now out that 84% of Americans would pay more taxes under his plan. You don't provide a standard deduction; you don't provide anything for low-income individuals,.

CAIN: I invite every American to do their own math, because most of these are knee-jerk reactions. And we do provide a provision, if you read the analysis, something we call opportunity zones that will, in fact, address the issue of those making the least.

Source: GOP 2011 primary debate in Las Vegas , Oct 18, 2011

Congress will be barred from raising sales tax over 9%

SANTORUM: [to Cain]: You are naively giving Congress a tool in your 9-9-9 plan: a huge new tax opportunity to get money through a sales tax.

CAIN: There are three deterrents to this nightmare scenario. First, I'm going to include a 2/3 majority vote before they can raise the 9-9-9 tax. Second, because it is visible, simple and transparent, the American people are going to be the ones to hold Congress' feet to the fire. Third, I would be president and I won't sign anything that raises the 9-9-9.

Source: 2011 GOP debate at Dartmouth College, NH , Oct 11, 2011

9-9-9 plan is revenue-neutral and expands the tax base

Q: You said, "My 9-9-9 plan imposes a 9% business flat tax, a 9% personal flat tax and a 9% national sales tax;" and that your plan is revenue neutral. Last year, the US collected $2.2 trillion in tax revenue. But Bloomberg Government has run the numbers and your plan would have raised no more than $2 trillion, even with a 9% sales tax.

CAIN: The problem with that analysis is that it is incorrect. They start with assumptions that we don't make. Remember, my 9-9-9 plan throws out the current tax code. And it starts with three simple economic driving principles: production drives the economy; risk-taking drives growth; and we need sound money. Now, what 9-9-9 does, it expands the base. When you expand the base, we can arrive at the lowest possible rate which is 9-9-9. The difference between the 9-9-9 plan and the other plans that are being proposed is that they pivot off of the existing tax code. We've had an outside independent firm dynamically score it, and our numbers will make it revenue neutral.

Source: 2011 GOP debate at Dartmouth College, NH , Oct 11, 2011

9-9-9 plan eliminates several taxes while creating 1 new tax

Q: Conservatives usually say repeal the income tax before you impose a new tax. Isn't there a danger with your 999 plan that some government down the road is going to increase three forms of taxation on Americans?

CAIN: No, there's no danger in that. This economy is on life support, that's why my 9, 9, 9 plan is a bold solution. It starts with throw out the current tax code and pass 9% business flat tax, 9% personal income tax, and the 9% national sales tax. This is the most important part: it eliminates, or replaces corporate income tax, personal income tax, capital gains tax as well as the estate tax. Then it treats all businesses the same. And the people who are paying only payroll tax, that 15.4% they don't have to pay, now they only have to pay that 9%. And unlike Gov. Romney's plan my plan throws out the old one. He's still hooked to the current tax code. That dog won't hunt.

Source: 2011 GOP Google debate in Orlando FL , Sep 22, 2011

9-9-9 economic plan: 9% income tax + 9% sales tax

Here's how I would fix this economy, first, eliminate the current tax code. It is a drain on entrepreneurs, it is the biggest barrier that's holding this economy back, and what I would do is to propose a bold plan.

I call it my 9-9-9 economic growth plan. Throw out the current tax code, a 9% tax on corporate income, a 9% tax on personal income and a 9% national sales tax. If 10% is good enough for God, 9% ought to be good enough for the federal government. This will replace all federal income taxes. It'll replace all federal income taxes.

It will also replace the payroll tax, so everybody gets some skin in the game. And it replaces the capital gains tax.

This economy is on life support. We do not need a solution that just trims around the edges. This is a bold plan and a bold solution. Additionally, with something as simple as 9-9-9, it gives us a easy mechanism to help those cities that are the most blighted in terms of empowerment zones.

Source: 2011 GOP debate in Simi Valley CA at the Reagan Library , Sep 7, 2011

Federal government taxes too much and too often

The federal government should encourage economic growth by less legislation, less regulation, lower taxes and business-friendly policies. Currently, the federal government taxes too much and too often. Meaningful tax reform should be implemented immediately to alleviate that suffocating tax burden placed on businesses and individuals. This means across-the-board tax cuts, including reducing the capital gains tax, suspending taxes on repatriated profits and permanently eliminating the death tax.
Source: Campaign website, www.hermancain.com/ "Issues" , May 21, 2011

Abolish the IRS; implement 23% national sales tax

Q: You say abolish the IRS and impose a FairTax, a national sales tax of 23%. But experts say the practical effect is a tax cut for the wealthy and a tax increase for the middle class.

A: With all due respect, your experts are dead wrong. I have studied the FairTax for a long time. First of all, it is 23%, but it replaces all federal income taxes; and it replaces the payroll tax. Depending on how you define a windfall for the rich, it's also a bonanza for the not-so-rich, because of the prebate. Every family deserves to get a prebate to offset taxes that would be paid on essential goods and services. That levels the playing field, in my opinion, and especially gives the not-so-rich an advantage that they don't have today under our current system. So yes, I strongly support totally replacing the current code with the FairTax.

Source: 2011 GOP primary debate in South Carolina , May 5, 2011

Attack of the "ations": regulation; legislation, taxation

The American Dream is under attack. But the good news is, we are fighting back. It is under attack by what I describe as "The Attack of the Ations": Too much legislation; too much regulation; & too much taxation. The attack of the "ations" is killing the American Dream.
Source: Speech at 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference , Feb 11, 2011

All tax increases are bad; but 2011 increase is punitive

All tax increases are bad, but there are some that are just plain unfair and punitive for no logical reason. The marriage penalty, the small business penalty, the retirement penalty, and the death penalty are in that category. Most people are unaware that these automatic tax increases come about because of a sunset clause in the 2000 tax decrease legislation.
Source: Political column, THE New Voice, "Tax increases of 2011" , Jul 11, 2010

FairTax stimulates economic growth and liberates the poor

This is what's wrong with the tax code along with its unfairness, its complexity and a long list of other anti-free-market and politics-of-envy provisions. The only solution is to replace it, and the Fair Tax is by far the best solution. The Fair Tax--a national consumption tax replacing all existing federal taxes-- eliminates all inconsistencies, stimulates economic growth and liberates the poor and the needy.

But the bureaucrats and career politicians want to keep the current system. The tax code gives them a means by which to encourage certain behaviors, and a means by which they can award tax favors to one group over another. The current system hides a plethora of sneak-a-taxes that may never be exposed.

The insanity and inconsistencies in the tax code are not new revelations, but some of us have got to continue to sound the alarm. That is, until we have leaders who will embrace the will of the people over the will of politics. That would be a break for all of us.

Source: Political column, THE New Voice, "Fair Tax Will Fix This" , Aug 20, 2007

Top 20% of earners pay nearly 80% of all income taxes

Liberal politicians have misled people about who actually pays most of the taxes in this country. One of their favorite promises is to provide a tax cut for the middle class. I have a breaking announcement--There is no middle class!The statistics above show that 20% of the income earners in the nation pay nearly 80% of all income taxes.. Where is this middle class the Democrats keep talking about? Yet we never hear an end to the liberal chorus that cuts in the tax rate are "tax cuts for the rich." Liberals believe that the amount of control they can exert over your life is directly related to the amount of taxes they can take from your paycheck.
Source: They Think You're Stupid, by Herman Cain, p. 49 , Jun 14, 2005

FactCheck: No, middle-earners pay more than 20% of taxes

Cain states that "Facts Don't Lie" (p.78) but SELECTING facts do! Cain states, accurately, that the top 20% of earners pay nearly 80% of all income taxes. That's misleading because it's only about the FEDERAL INCOME TAX, ignoring all other taxes. When accounting for payroll tax, sales tax, property tax, and state taxes, the top earners don't pay nearly as much as Cain indicates. One purpose of the federal income tax's "progressivity" (that high earners pay a lot more) is to make up the "regressive" nature of all of the other taxes (that low earners pay relatively more).

The most important example is FICA, the payroll tax withholding for Social Security. Cain himself calls that tax "highly regressive" (p. 83). Employees pay for FICA at 6.2% on the first $106,800 of taxable earnings, and 0% above that earning level. That means low- and middle-earners actually pay towards FICA a HIGHER percentage of their income than do high-earners. Cain misleads readers by citing only the federal income tax totals

Source: OnTheIssues FactCheck on H.Cain's "They Think You're Stupid" , Jun 14, 2005

FairTax will cause the US economy to skyrocket

Passage of HR 25 will replace the outdated mess that is the federal tax code with the national retail sales tax, also known as the FairTax. The FairTax will remove the current onerous tax burden from the backs of citizens and businesses and cause the economy to sky rocket. Passage of the FairTax will dramatically benefit all citizens, especially the lowest wage earners. Why don't more members of Congress support the FairTax? Most are waiting to trade their vote for some "pork" to be sent back home.
Source: They Think You're Stupid, by Herman Cain, p. 11 , Jun 14, 2005

1990s: chaired Tax Leadership Council, promoting FairTax

In the 1990s I became chairman of the Tax Leadership Council for an organization called Americans for Fair Taxation. AFFT promotes replacement of the current federal tax code with a national retail sales tax, also known as FairTax. The idea of replacing the federal income tax with the FairTax is gaining grassroots support and momentum across the country. The FairTax will result in an immediate increase in take-home pay for all wage earners and effectively "untax" the poor.
Source: They Think You're Stupid, by Herman Cain, p. 82 , Jun 14, 2005

Estate tax causes farmers to have to sell the farm

If voters do not see how an issue personally affects them and their families, they will not feel connected to the message or the messenger. The debate surrounding repeal of the estate tax, until recently, most African Americans felt no connection to this debate because they did not have any estates to pass on to their heirs. A large and growing percentage of African Americans have achieved some financial success, which has produced a personal connection to arguments for eliminating the estate tax. The current estate tax does not merely "tax the rich" as the Democratic Party has argued for years. It causes farmers to have to sell the farm to try to save the farm and unfairly diminish the ability to pass first-generation success on to the next generation in a family. A lifetime of hard work and risk-taking should not go to the government, but to one's family.
Source: They Think You're Stupid, by Herman Cain, p. 4 , Jun 14, 2005

Public doesn't understand elementary economics of tax cuts

Republicans have done a poor job communicating the effects of cutting or eliminating income, dividend, and estate tax rates on producing economic growth, job creation, and individual prosperity. They mistakenly assume that most of the public understands elementary economics. They do not. Instead of framing the issue of tax cuts around the personal benefits available to individual taxpayers, such as more money in their pockets and their companies will be less likely to lay people off from their jobs, Republicans defend tax rate reductions by arguing that federal coffers will swell and business will grow and hire more employees. Individuals care more about not being laid off than they do about a businesses growing. While the Republicans are technicall correct, Republicans must remember that businesses do not vote in elections. Leroy and Bessie Public vote in elections and in the back of their minds is the thought that the Democrats might be right when they charge that tax cuts only benefit the rich.
Source: They Think You're Stupid, by Herman Cain, p.103-104 , Jun 14, 2005

IRS automatic withholding is immoral taxation

In 1943, the federal government began an immoral program that would forever change the way that Americans think (or in this case, don't think) about taxation. The federal government enacted what we know of as "automatic withholding." [Before 1943] people were responsible for sending the IRS a check by April 15 each year for the amount of taxes owed on their prior year's income. People knew exactly how much they were paying for government services.

Automatic withholding was designed as a way to fill the federal coffers every month and to mask the true cost of ever-escalating federal spending. Congress promised the public that automatic withholding would end as soon as the war was over. That war ended 60 years ago. Of course, taxes are still automatically withheld from your paycheck. Automatic withholding is nothing short of immoral on the basis that it keeps people ignorant of the true cost of government and the amount of taxes they actually pay.

Source: They Think You're Stupid, by Herman Cain, p.136-137 , Jun 14, 2005

1995: Served on Commission on Economic Growth & Tax Reform

Several commissions over the last 20 years, including the one I served on in 1995 (the National Commission on Economic Growth and Tax Reform), have all concluded that a replacement tax system should satisfy six principles:
  1. Promote economic growth by reducing marginal tax rates and eliminating the tax bias against savings & investments
  2. Promote fairness by having one tax rate and eliminating all loopholes and exclusions
  3. Be simple and understandable. Simplicity would dramatically reduce compliance costs and allow comprehending actual tax burdens
  4. Be neutral rather than allowing misguided officials to manipulate and micromanage our economy by favoring some of the expense of others
  5. Be visible so it clearly conveys the true cost of government and so people would not be subjected to hidden changes in the tax law
  6. Be stable rather than changing every year or two so people can better plan their businesses and their lives.
The FairTax satisfies all six criteria.
Source: They Think You're Stupid, by Herman Cain, p.137-138 , Jun 14, 2005

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