I was planning on writing a post this week on Herman Cain. Now that he won the Florida straw poll by a substantial margin, it makes it that much more important. While the Florida straw poll tends to be tilted towards the more establishment figures (I knew Ron Paul had little chance of doing well) because of the way it is run, it is still significant for Cain because he is getting a little more attention now.
I wrote a post about Cain a few months ago. He is a statist. He claims to be a political outsider and yet he was chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. He has some libertarian rhetoric and that is why I focus some attention on him. Romney is a statist too, but it is more apparent to those with libertarian leanings.
While Cain has previously supported the so-called Fair Tax, he is now advocating a plan that he calls "999". It is a proposal to have a flat tax rate of 9% for businesses, 9% for individual income taxes, and 9% for a national sales tax. He claims it is revenue neutral, just like the Fair Tax.
I am against the Fair Tax for various reasons, particularly because it is revenue neutral. (I really don't like the term revenue, since government is not a business and this money is obtained through the threat of force and not through providing goods and services.)
However, Cain's 999 plan is much worse than the Fair Tax. At least the Fair Tax is supposed to repeal the 16th Amendment and abolish the federal income tax. With Cain's plan, we would have both a national sales tax and an income tax. What is to stop the next congress and president from raising the income tax rates on high-income earners, while leaving the sales tax in place?
In addition, this 999 plan would be horrible for the middle class. It would be a massive tax hike on the poor and middle class. Many lower to middle income families pay very little or nothing at all in the way of income taxes. They just pay the payroll taxes. Now they would also have to pay an additional 9% on everything they buy?
Cain's income tax plan also doesn't allow for any deductions, except for charitable donations. His website says it would be "gross income less charitable deductions". Then it says "Empowerment Zones will offer additional deductions for those living and/or working in the zone", whatever that means. This sounds like more central planning from a former Fed official.
This 999 plan would be an absolute disaster. It would raise taxes on the poor and middle class and it would leave higher income earners more vulnerable in the future. It would not cut anything out of the budget. It would leave us with the IRS and it would have to create another IRS or another division of the IRS just to collect the sales tax.
It doesn't matter how abysmal Cain is on all of the other issues. This 999 plan alone should tell every libertarian to run in the opposite direction. If Cain were at all a libertarian, he would be advocating at least some spending cuts. I am no fan of Michele Bachmann, but she is far better than Cain on fiscal issues. And Gary Johnson is far better than Bachmann. And Ron Paul is far better than Johnson.