WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Herman Cain's famous 9-9-9 tax proposal has inspired international admiration, and two Japanese activists hope to bring their own version of the Atlanta businessman's plan to their country.
During a private meeting Thursday with Tokyo Tea Party leader Yuya Watase and Jikido "Jay" Aeba of Japan's Happiness Realization Party (HRP), Cain agreed to travel to Japan and speak at events to promote the idea.
"I would love to come and address your event in Japan, if that is something that you all would want me to do. . . . I would be honored to do so," Cain told Aeba and Watase, who have organized public rallies against government proposals for higher taxes in Japan.
Cain's 9-9-9 plan helped boost the retired restaurant executive to the top of the polls in October. His proposal -- which would replace the current tax code with 9 percent flat taxes on personal income, corporate income and retail sales -- was praised by the Wall Street Journal and others who credited Cain's campaign with making tax reform a central focus of the debate among Republican presidential contenders.
Aeba, whose fledgling HRP has made tax reduction and economic growth a key part of its policy agenda, told Cain he wanted to adapt his 9-9-9 plan at an even lower rate: 7-7-7.
"We got this idea from the Americans for Tax Reform, Mr. Grover Norquist," Aeba told Cain through a translator. When he heard Aeba pronounce "7-7-7," Cain laughed approvingly.
"I understood that without translation," Cain said, and immediately asked whether the 7 percent rate would be revenue-neutral. Aeba replied that he hopes to get "more detailed analysis," but said he believes the plan would stimulate the economy enough to produce the same amount of revenue at the lower rate. "The Japanese people will have more income and ... will buy more goods, so the Japanese economy will recover," Aeba said.
"I would be honored to come [to Japan] and endorse 7-7-7," Cain said.
Cain met with the Japanese activists in his suite at Washington's Marriott Wardman Park hotel after addressing Thursday's opening day of the 39th Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). The former Repbulican presidential candidate drew applause as he told the crowd, "We must outsmart the liberals. We must outsmart the stupid people that are trying to ruin America. We outnumber the stupid people. Trust me, I counted them." Cain called for a "second American Revolution," and blamed "gutter politics" for the sexual allegations that led him to suspend his presidential campaign in December. He continues to promote his 9-9-9 plan through his Cain Connections Web site.
Cain's candidacy drew on his support among Tea Party activists who had heard him speak at rallies in 2009 and 2010, when the grassroots movement sparked resistance to the Obama administration's agenda. The Tea Party was widely credited with helping Republicans achieve a historic landslide in the 2010 mid-term elections.
The American Tea Party movement has inspired similar populist protest movements around the world. Last year, Tea Party Patriots founder Kelli Carender met with Watase and other Japanese activists who oppose tax-increase plans by that country's ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
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