Herman Cain is the hot Republican candidate at the moment, so Ernest Dumas’ examination of some of his ideas is timely. His easy 9-9-9 tax plan? The details aren’t so hot. More like appalling.

He would replace all federal taxes—individual and corporate income taxes, and social security, Medicare, disability, unemployment, gasoline, cigarette and all other excise taxes—with three simple tax rates: 9 percent on personal income, 9 percent on business income and a 9 percent sales tax on all commercial activity. That sounds fair enough. There would be no exemptions and deductions. Well, only a few. Investment income—capital gains, interest and dividends, the income of the leisure class—wouldn’t be taxed at all. Your social security? Yes, tax it. As for the 9 percent business tax, it would apply only to the share of a company’s revenue that was spent on wages.

It would be a mammoth tax cut for the rich and corporations and a giant tax increase for the middle class, the elderly and disabled. For the 47 percent of tax filers whose incomes were so low after the standard deductions and credits last year that they owed no taxes, they would pay 9 percent of their gross income plus a 9 percent sales tax on everything they bought, from a haircut to a hospital visit. Citizens for Tax Justice put its calculators to work. The richest 1 percent of Americans would pay an average of $210,000 less a year while the poorest 60 percent would pay an average of $2,000 more. The government this year would take in $340 billion less. Add that to the national debt.

But the 9-9-9 reform would be only to get working people used to paying a bigger share of the cost of government. After several years of personal adjustment, those taxes would be halted and the country would go to a 30 percent national sales tax on every single commercial transaction.

How’s a $45,000 tax on a $150,000 house strike you? More on the jump. Entertaining guy. Terrible ideas.


SPEAKING OF THE HERMANATOR: He’s apparently directing some campaign money to his company promoting his book. Wasn’t there another political candidate who purchased copies of his own book with campaign or PAC money to give away at fund-raising and other functions?