WILTSE: What is the appeal of Cain’s tax plan?

Oct 27, 2011


A 9-percent sales tax would be devastating. It would be extremely devastating to business, which is not what is needed at the moment. It would be especially devastating here in Michigan, as well as many other states since it would bring the total sales tax up to a whopping 15 percent — which would be intolerable. 

Up to now, the federal government has carefully avoided a sales tax. There has been little serious talk about it until now. Anyone who has suggested it has been loudly shouted down.

Many states such as Michigan may be forced to reduce their own sales tax so as to relieve the burden on their citizens. Sales taxes have been a major source of income for the states, and the federal government has always acknowledged that and has not interfered with a tax of their own.

What appeals to the Republicans about the plan? Evidently, it is the simplicity of it all.

A 9-percent corporate tax, a 9-percent income tax and a 9-percent sales tax would certainly simplify the current tax code, which occupies volumes and volumes of laws and literature. While corporations would certainly welcome a 9-percent tax, it places an extraordinary burden on the masses.

Is Mr. Cain so naïve that he expects the current tax codes to be thrown out in favor of his own simplistic ideas? Does he expect that to happen with no argument? He would be in for the fight of the centuries and one that would last for centuries. His ideas are clearly not thought out at all.

He has already backed off a bit by declaring his 9-0-9 plan for people who live at or below the poverty level. In other words, he will relieve them of the income tax, but still expects them to pay his absurd 9-percent sales tax. Are there to be no other exceptions?

How about exceptions for wounded and disabled war veterans? Or for the simply disabled? Or for the mentally disturbed or retarded. Or for persons faced with major medical expenses? Or for people who have suffered through natural disasters? Are there to be absolutely no exceptions to the sales tax?

If one wants to work on it, one can probably come up with many more exceptions. That is what I mean when I say that it isn’t well thought out at all.

While I find the 9-percent sales tax most disturbing for its burden on the common man, I find the 9-percent corporate tax almost as disturbing in that, if Mr. Cain were nominated, I’m sure that he would find plenty of corporate backing as well as lots of backing from wealthy individuals. Mr. Cain would have no problem finding financing for plenty of commercials from the media; even free or almost free commercials from the media itself.

Mr. Cain, so far, has had some problems in raising cash, but I doubt that he would need much cash once nominated.

I fear that if Mr. Cain were nominated, and if he were elected, then the gap between the haves and the have-nots (as disturbing as it currently is) would become even more pronounced.

I am disturbed by the other principle contender for the nomination of the Republican Party, Mitt Romney, for more or less the opposite reason. He claims (this is a direct quote): “I understand this economy, I know how it works.” If that is the case, why doesn’t he share that information with Mr. Greenspan and Mr. Bernanke — I’m sure they would like to know.  

Mr. Romney also claims that he knows how to create jobs. If that is the case, why does he keep it a secret? Why doesn’t he inform the powers that be? In short, I find it difficult to believe him about the economy, hence I find it difficult to believe him at all.

I have other things to say about the other contenders, but space is limited here. Maybe next month. By that time, maybe someone else will come walking out of the bushes.

— By Ralph Wiltse, Tribune community columnist


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