HANOVER, N.H. — “Who’s going to cater state dinners at the White House? My Aunt Bessie!” That’s how GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain ended his Q&A with reporters in the Hopkins Center spin room at Dartmouth College on Tuesday night.
Before answering that question from The Daily Caller, Cain spent the previous 15 minutes waxing philosophical on the merits of his “9-9-9” economic plan.
Asked by TheDC whether the 9 percent national sales tax included in his signature plan would create taxpayer resentment or even provide more food for a voracious Congress full of big spenders, Cain was confident that he has nothing to worry about.
“When I’m president, I’m not worried about it being abused,” he said. “And I plan to be president, and that’s the only way it’s going to get passed. So I’m not going to allow it to be abused.”
Cain didn’t address, however, the prospect of a new sales tax being “abused” after his presumptive presidency ended.
He seemed more concerned, however, with nullifying what he called “sneak at-taxes” in the current federal tax code — taxes that his plan would eliminate.
“We get ripped off all the time every time Congress passes new tax legislation,” he told TheDC. “If you just look at President Obama’s proposal as an example — [his] so-called jobs bill — there are 84 sneak at-taxes in that bill.” (RELATED: GOP candidates go after Cain’s 9-9-9 plan in debate)
“So I’m not worried about adding sales tax in order to broaden the base,” Cain said. “I’m more worried about the sneak at-taxes that they continue to hit us with. So my response to people is: Until you can tell me about all of the ones in the current tax code, don’t criticize me adding one called the sales tax. That’s where you need leadership.”
Talking earlier, Cain highlighted the differences between what he sees as fellow candidate Mitt Romney’s far-too-complex economic plan, blending elements of energy policy and entitlement policy with tax code revisions, and his own far simpler approach.
Asked for a response to Romney’s criticism of the “9-9-9” plan as overly simplistic, Cain said, “What Governor Romney doesn’t understand is that that is my strategy — to develop compelling solutions that the people can understand.”
“Governor Romney basically tipped his hand as a politician,” Can added. “He wants to put together big, complicated bills that people can’t understand. I will have an energy independence strategy. I will have a strategy for restructuring Social Security… but he tried to put too much stuff in there. And we’re going to be right back to a 2,700-page bill that the public doesn’t understand.”
“One of the keys to my success as president, and getting a lot of my ideas passed,” he explained, “is to make sure that they are simple, such that the people can understand it, because then they will support it.”
The Tuesday night debate at Dartmouth College covered a breadth of economic topics. It was sponsored by Bloomberg TV and The Washington Post, in partnership with WBIN-TV.
David is The Daily Caller’s executive editor and a Dartmouth alumnus. Follow him on Twitter