In his first appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday, GOP presidential contender Herman Cain went head-to-head with host David Gregory on his 9-9-9 tax plan, which includes a new national sales tax. Critics on both the left and the right have issues with the plan, which they argue would place a bigger tax burden on the poor and the middle class, while lowering the amount paid by top earners.
“Some people will pay more, but most people will pay less,” Cain said.
Cain said that people who spend more on new goods would pay higher taxes but, under his plan, competition would lower prices on consumer goods. The former Godfather’s Pizza executive also said that the current tax code includes “sneak attaxes” that hit people in ways they’re unaware of.
“What 9-9-9 does, it makes it very visible, so that the American people can hold the feet of Congress to the fire. That's the thing that we have that the current tax code does not have,” he said.
Cain also defended an earlier statement in which he remarked that “stupid people” are running the country.
“Open-mindedness is what’s going to save this country. The reason that my message is appealing is because it’s simple and people can understand it. You know, a good idea transcends party politics,” he said. “But there are some people who will not even consider 9-9-9 or any other proposal if it’s coming from someone of the opposite political persuasion.”
During last week’s GOP presidential debate, Cain, who previously declined to name his economic advisors, identified Rich Lowrie, a Cleveland-based financial consultant who holds a degree in accounting but is not an economist, as one of the people who helped craft the plan that has helped push him to the top of recent polls.
While Cain stood his ground in defending the 9-9-9 plan, a few chinks emerged when he was questioned on foreign policy. Cain said that former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former U.S. Ambassador John Bolton helped shape his views in the area, but when asked if he is familiar with the neoconservative movement, a school of thought that supports economic sanctions and military involvement to promote democracy, Cain expressed ignorance.
“I am not familiar with the neo-conservative movement. I'm familiar with the conservative movement, and let me define what I mean by the conservative movement — less government, less taxes, more individual responsibility,” Cain replied, adding that his foreign policy and principles are an extension of former President Ronald Reagan’s: peace through strength and clarity.
Cain also said that the U.S. needs to clarify who its enemies and friends are and “then let the rest of the world know we will stand by our friends.”
(Photo: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)