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Returning to Hanover, New Hampshire yesterday following a 9 week hike down the Appalachian Trail I found the town and the Dartmouth campus overrun by politicians and media faces lifted from T.V. screens across the country. Satellite trucks jammed traffic. A PT Cruiser painted in orange script, FEEL THE FLAMES BAPTIST MINISTRY, blared its horn. It looked like a circus.
Then I remembered that just before I left town I got an offer to enter the student/faculty lottery for tickets to the Republican debate and it was now just four days away. I had thrown the notice into the trash. But a new guy was in the forefront. Posters of Hermann Cain were everywhere. The street buzz was incredible. Cain had forged ahead and threatened to flip the GOP over on it's backside with a revolutionary plan to save America. Wow, maybe I can blackmail one of my students for a ticket, I thought. .
Leaving my L.L. Bean Subaru blocked in front of the bookstore, I hiked the 9 blocks to my house. I couldn't wait to get my hands on a long neck of my favorite beer, Magic Hat #9. Ah, yes, and a frozen pizza. Then a hot shower. Throw three pair of boxer shorts and 9 filthy socks into the trash and load the rest of the stinking laundry into the washing machine.
CNN TV was on in the background. Pretty reporter, there. Who's she? This is the new 999 show? Why'd they call it that? Wait, it's a stock market report. Her address? Hermann Cain was on her show hawking a $9.99 pizza and his new book.
I awoke at 3:00 AM with pepperoni and cheese stuck in the back of my throat. Don't tell me -- the 999 thing was his plan--the plan that was now burying the two leading candidates Romney and Perry? Was this a joke? Or maybe something from Revelations prophesying a government overhaul?
This morning I extracted a debate ticket from one of my students and focused for three seconds on Cain's 999 plan to transform America. What I thought was a chapter from the Bible or maybe that CNN reporter's street address was a tax overhaul plan devised by a fast food restaurant chain executive in league with the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation. In the wake of pitiful debate performances by the other Presidential Candidates, Cain has risen to the top of the Republican incubator. Wait, what about Santorum? Even he has 99 times more experience than this guy.
It turns out that the American people want to be fed something that's get-down-doughy-simple- minded and cheesy. Republicans are willing to go up against Obama with a no brainer 999 plan which will transform the economy. Why not, they say, the Heritage Foundation has already scored (I'll say) the plan. It will increase Federal Tax revenues by 15%.
On Tuesday I will witness an elite panel, assisted by a Bloomberg Terminal (there's a prophesy), as they pepper Mr. Cain with penetrating questions on the 999 plan. Cain is now the man to beat so he is the target. After all, he has cut out a 27% slice of Republican voters with a simple message of tax rates: 9% on household income, 9% on corporate profits, 9% on consumer consumption.
Cain's across the board consumer tax will burden the poor in favor of the rich--because the poor spend 99.9% of what they earn and the rich spend a fraction. Having paid the full brunt of 9% consumer tax, the poor will then pay another 9% on what they earn. That gives them an effective tax rate of 18%.--well, okay, 17.999%. The rich, however, will be at 9% income tax plus a fraction on that part of their wealth that they actually use for consumption -- or an overall lower rate! This plan is really easy to understand.
When I'm not in my make-believe class room in Hanover,New Hampshire I run a small business in Texas and drive a Ford 250 dually. Unfortunately I will not be able to groan in the audience next Tuesday as Sharia Law, Perry's Rock, Romney's flip flopping and Cain's 999 plan are spun upon the stage. But I'd like to give my response to Mr. Cain: I want to take the 999 plan, drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.
You see, Mr. Cain, my business is labor-intensive, as are most of the small businesses in this country which are service-based. Your 999 plan eliminates the deduction for direct labor. So, reviewing my last year numbers, even though I would have had a lower tax rate, my actual corporate income taxes would have gone up by $29,999. Yes, sir, I see the truth in the Heritage Foundation's scoring.
The facts are, Mr. Cain, that your 999 plan would put me into bankruptcy in 99 days and put 9 more people on the unemployment roles.
That a candidate like Mr. Cain can get this far into a Presidential nominating process without being seriously questioned about his half-baked tax plan is a disgrace to our country and the corporations and media empires which run it. I'm not certain if Charlie Rose, moderating the upcoming debate, has the financial intellect to put the dollars and cents toppings on Cain's pizza plan. I'm not holding my breath. But I'll be watching the debate on T.V., having a few pulls on a Magic Hat #9, and thinking how much I miss the Fall weather in New Hampshire.