It was a strategy session at 28,000 feet. Herman Cain, the Republican presidential candidate, and his advisers were on a campaign flight this summer tossing around policy ideas. Cain, a former pizza chain chief executive, wanted a proposal to jolt the economy and give his candidacy some definition.
"I said, 'The first fundamental, guys, is we have to throw out the tax code,' " Cain said Wednesday in an interview.
From that exchange emerged the plan that Cain calls 9-9-9: a flat 9 percent individual income tax rate, a 9 percent corporate tax rate and a 9 percent national sales tax.
He has uttered the triple digits repeatedly, in speeches and debates, until they have acquired the catchy power of a brand.
Although Cain's rivals have tried to use the plan's simplicity against him -- chiding that it sounds like the price of a pizza -- he has stuck to his message.
Simple is simple. It's neither better nor worse. It can be good or it can be bad.
And let's face facts: in an age when you are a mistake away from being fired, out of money, and out of your house, who wouldn't want their taxes "lowered"? Nine percent sounds very attractive, to be sure. You can accumulate some savings, since your tax rate will effectively be cut by two-thirds or more, and sock away some money just in case you get drunk and molest the boss's admin.
Right there, it ought to be suspect.
I want to discuss the rather disturbing fact that this obviously deluded man with his obviously destructive plan has any credibility in American politics whatsoever. A child of government assistance, from the federal funds his alma mater received to the affirmative action acceptance at Purdue University (...presumably. Cain has not released his college transcripts. There must be a reason, right?) to the job he obtained working for the Navy, he stands foursquare against a hand up to anyone else.
You'd think a man with the background of Cain would have a certain fealty towards people struggling to get by, but apparently not.
How has this emotional Scrooge has captivated so many spiteful, hateful people? Well, for one thing, there's the whole Baptist minister-- Cain is an assistant minister-- theme, with the cadences and rhythms that go with that position. It has a more powerful effect on the delusional than you might think.
And its undeniable that his life story...assuming he's told the truth about it...is a compelling one, growing up in the deeply segregated south, suffering the abuses of the white people around him, rising to become first head of Burger King (after a rather...impressively entrepreneurial...start of going from fry cook to regional manager in only seven months! *snark*) and then rebuilding the Godfather's Pizza chain...after putting hundreds of people out of work in a leveraged buyout in the 1990s. The chain has not recovered since, shrinking from over 900 locations to just over 400, and now back up to 600 ten years after Cain left.
You might recall that it was in this tenure that Cain challenged the Clinton health care reform initiative. I wonder how many of those poor laid off employees would have enjoyed adequate healthcare these past twenty years after they were screwed twice by Cain?
And yet, somehow this greedy vicious little man is a serious contender, tho likely not a finalist, for the Republican nomination for President.
Could it be....greed?