Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio says he hasn’t formulated an opinion on Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain’s “9-9-9” tax reform plan, but praised the Georgia businessman for stepping up and offering a specific proposal to reform the tax system.
“I think it’s a very good thing that we have candidates running on the Republican side that is offering real, economic, detailed plans, whether people agree with him or not,” Rubio, a tea party favorite, told The Daily Caller outside the Senate floor on Tuesday.
“I hope the response to his plan won’t just be criticism, but alternatives,” Rubio said. “And that, I think, will enrich our candidates and make them better general election candidates.”
Rubio, a freshman senator who is often mentioned as a possible vice presidential candidate in 2012, said of Cain’s plan that “there are elements of it, as I understand it — the flattening of the tax code — that I think are positive.”
Cain’s plan throws out the current tax system by establishing a 9 percent corporate tax, a 9 percent income tax and a new 9 percent national sales tax. No Republicans on Capitol Hill have come out in full support of the plan yet.
Asked about Cain’s plan on Tuesday, 2008 Republican presidential nominee and Arizona Sen. John McCain told reporters on Capitol Hill that, “I haven’t had a chance to look at it very carefully, but I’m always concerned about raising anybody’s taxes.”
“I respect the plan,” McCain said, “but I haven’t had a chance to examine it.”
Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, who has endorsed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the 2012 race for president, wouldn’t say he supports the 9-9-9 plan, but said, “I think it’s a lot of fun. I think it’s a lot of fun.”
“Look, I happen to like Herman Cain,” Hatch said. “We’ve been friends for a long time. I don’t know that he knows that as well as I do, but I have a lot regard for him. He’s a very, very accomplished man.”
Hatch said that aside from Romney, Cain “is the only other one who has really extensive experience in the private sector.”
But then he added, “Romney has an advantage because he’s not only been in the private sector in a variety of ways, but in the public sector as well.”
Sen. Mitch McConnell, the GOP leader in the Senate, side-stepped the question on whether he thinks Cain’s plan should receive serious consideration.
“A Presidential campaign is one thing,” McConnell said. “We’re pursuing our own interests here.”