GOP candidates go after Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan in debate

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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Herman Cain’s “9-9-9″ tax reform plan came under fire Tuesday night by his rivals for the Republican nomination for president at the Bloomberg/Washington Post primary debate.

“When you take the 9-9-9 plan and you turn it upside down,” said Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, “I think the the devil is in the details.”

Cain’s plan throws out the current tax system by establishing a 9 percent corporate tax, 9 percent income tax and a new 9 percent national sales tax.

But Bachmann said she’s against it because the “last thing you would do” is give Congress another pipeline for revenue. Her campaign also sent a memo to reporters during the debate with the headline “‘9-9-9’ Would Wreck the U.S. Economy.”

“Once you get a new revenue stream,” Bachmann said. “You’re never going to get rid of it.”

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum also attacked Cain’s plan, saying it would be hard to get through Congress.

“The cool thing about my plan, as opposed to Herman’s plans and some of the other plans out here, it will pass tomorrow,” Santorum said. “It would pass tomorrow.” (RELATED: Debate starts with sparring, jabbing and joking)

At one point, Santorum got fired up and asked the audience at the debate: “How many people are for a sales tax in New Hampshire? Raise your hands.” No hands went up. “There you go Herman. That’s how many votes you’ll get in New Hampshire.”

But Cain, a former businessman, staunchly defended his plan, declaring that “9-9-9 will pass, and it is not the price of a pizza, because it has been well-studied and well-developed.”

“It starts with, unlike your proposals, throwing out the current tax code,” Cain said. “Continuing to pivot off the current tax code is not going to boost this economy.  This is why we developed 9-9-9, 9 percent corporate business flat tax, 9 percent personal income flat tax, and a 9 percent national sales tax.  And it will pass… because the American people want it to pass.”

Texas Rep. Ron Paul’s campaign also sent an email to reporters during the debate saying, “Cain’s 9-9-9 Doesn’t Add Up.” His campaign quoted an opinion piece online that said: “Paradoxically, then, if you want higher taxes and permanently bigger government, one way to get there would be to support Herman Cain’s 999 plan!”

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman said while he thinks Cain’s plan is “a catchy phrase,” he “thought it was the price of a pizza when I first heard about it.”

“Here’s what we need,” Huntsman said. “We need something that’s doable, doable, doable. And what I have put forward is a tax program that is doable.  It actually wipes clean all of the loopholes and the deductions.”

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