We here at TW spent a fair amount of time debunking GOP congressional candidate Jesse Kelly's call for a 10 percent flat income tax on all Americans, which he based on his economic argument that “if 10 percent was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for the federal government.”
Well, rising GOP contender Herman Cain has stolen Jesse's line—and done him one better. In a recent GOP debate, Cain declared: "If 10 percent is good enough for God, 9 percent should be enough for the federal government."
Cain's plan is a little different from Kelly's proposal (which wasn't really much of a proposal at all, given that Kelly had a hard time even being able to explain it himself every time we asked him about it.) Cain wants a 9 percent flat income tax, 9 percent national sales tax and 9 percent corporate income tax.
Talking Points Memo outlines why this isn't likely to work:
Herman Cain has turned the number nine into a campaign mantra. He's running on a plan to wipe out the current tax code and replace it with one branded 9-9-9 — a nine percent personal income tax, a nine percent corporate income tax and a nine percent sales tax.
This, even conservative experts agree, wouldn't provide the federal government with enough revenue to maintain the safety net and would lead therefore to either persistent deficits and growing debt, or a drastic reduction in social programs.
Because in addition to setting the rates at nine percent, he says he wants them essentially frozen there, so they can't climb to meet the nation's needs.
TPM also points out a few other problems with Cain's proposal:
The biggest is that creating a legal requirement binding future Congresses to impose supermajority requirements on themselves to change tax law is likely unconstitutional. That means Cain's plans would either need to change the Senate rules directly, or the Constitution itself. In either case, he'd need a two-thirds vote in the Senate just to pass his 9-9-9 plan. And that's not gonna happen.
"Senate rules, ok; but one legislature cannot bind another," emails Charles Fried, a Harvard law professor who served as Solicitor General under Ronald Reagan.
The really sad thing: This is like me saying that Godfather Pizza should sell pizzas for just $1. You might say they'd lose money on that; I'd say, what they lose out per pizza, they'd make up for on volume.
You'd probably point out that Godfather Pizza would soon be out business. And you'd be right.
Unfortunately, there's no upside for someone like Mitt Romney to point out that this is a disastrous financial plan, because even though he'd be right about that, he'd lose ground among GOP primary voters, who are more than happy to buy into bullshit like this because they don't imagine Herman Cain would make such outlandish nonsense up.