As one of the first ones to start the ball rolling on critiques of Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan (even though I like it in a theoretical vacuum), I am obviously no shill for Cain. Still, in response to Joe’s post, it is worth noting that while Cain himself has not previously made clear that his plan contained an exemption for those below the poverty level, that exemption actually has been part of the plan as scored all along. In that sense, Phil Klein (cited by Joe) is wrong that this “change” would mean a loss of revenue, because the original scoring by the estimable Gary Robbins actually adjudged 9-9-9 as revenue neutral even WITH the exemption. To quote from Gary Robbins’ 10-page “scoring” analysis:
“Recognizing that relief for low income taxpayers will inevitably be part of any tax reform, we also estimate tax rates assuming that each plan will provide a refundable tax credit equal to the tax rate times the poverty level.” And later: “The aggregage poverty amount is just subtracted from the gross tax base for each proposal.”
So, again, this is nothing new; it’s just that Cain never made it clear before. I’m all for vetting the plan, and Mr. Cain, thoroughly, but I don’t want to criticize him for inconsistency or arithmetical problems when he’s actually remaining consistent with the same arithmetic as always.