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Herman Cain, Calling Himself “Häagen-Dazs Black Walnut,” Gets Front-Runner Flavor

| October 13, 2011

Yes he Cain. (Tania Gail )

First it was Michele Bachmann. Then it was Rick Perry. It was never Mitt Romney. John Huntsman, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum never had a chance. It could have been Chris Christy or Sarah Palin, it might even have been Jeb Bush–and who knows, could still be–but one by one each name soared in the Republican firmament, like a rocket at a Santore fireworks show, only to burst every hope below. Now it’s Herman Cain, the former pizza chain executive who, between his straw poll victory in Florida last month, the carnage that’s been felling one GOP contender after another, and folksy simplicity of his unexamined life and 9-9-9 tax plan have now vaulted him to the top of what’s left of the Republican field, according to the latest Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll.

Rick Perry sunk to third, Mitt Romney never really budged from his middling numbers, and guess who’s in fourth, ahead of Bachmann: Ron Paul, the only one of the candidates whose numbers, while still relatively low, keep rising, slowly, but without ever dipping.

For now though, it’s Cain’s moment. When asked whom they’d vote for if this were November 2012, those Republican saying they’d vote for Cain did so with more enthusiasm than Republicans saying they’d vote for Romney or Perry: 45 percent of Cain supporters said they’d go for him with enthusiasm, and just 27 percent with reservations, as opposed to 39 percent saying they’d vote Romney with enthusiasm and 40 percent with reservations. Perry, meanwhile, who used to be the great white hope of the tea party, lost much of his luster when he turned out to see undocumented immigrants less as subhuman demons than as human beings worth giving a chance. Perry’s tea party support went from 45 percent in August to just 15 percent in this latest poll.

Cain, the Journal reports, “Cain posted strong support among college-educated males, tea-party backers and those who consider themselves “very conservative.” Mr. Romney drew his strongest support from those who see themselves as moderate to liberal Republicans.”

Cain’s front-runner status was apparent in the latest Republican primary debate, in new Hampshire, though the level of debate was not elevated: Bachmann, never at a loss for homages to eye-rolling, suggested that Cain’s 9-9-9 plan was not so much voodoo as satanic economics (“When you take the 9-9-9 plan and you turn it upside won, the devil is in the details,” she said). Huntsman may have been barely more accurate, and only metaphorically so, when he likened the plan to the price of a pizza.

It is true that the plan has barely been baked. It would eliminate the present tax code, replacing it with a flat 9 percent income tax (on all incomes), a 9 percent sales tax, and a 9 percent corporate tax. Cain thought it up on a plane to somewhere, when he asked his advisers for something catchy for his campaign. It was devised by Rich Lowrie, who, the Times reports, “became involved with the Ohio chapter of Americans for Prosperity, the conservative organization supported by the billionaire Koch brothers.” Cain claims the three 9’s would raise the same $2.3 trillion raised by the federal government in 2008. Cain or his advisers haven’t yet made clear whether, for example, the sales tax would apply to food and medicines, though it would likely have to in order to raise anywhere near the revenue he claims it will. Like all tax systems reliant on the sales tax (witness Florida), it would be quite vulnerable to economic downturns.

Conservatives and liberals tend to oppose the plan because of its sales tax component–conservatives because the fear a sales tax would easily be increased once in place, and liberals because they consider the sales tax regressive.

Barack Obama’s approval number clocked in at 44 percent, tied for lowest of his presidency in Journal poll tallies. Gallup has his approval at 40 percent, two points above his lowest rating to date, while his disapproval numbers have risen to 53 percent.

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11 Responses for “Herman Cain, Calling Himself “Häagen-Dazs Black Walnut,” Gets Front-Runner Flavor”

  1. BW says:

    I think overall what we are seeing with the GOP primaries is interesting, and also very concerning about the future of the party itself. Cain is no less interesting mainly to me because he backed by many of those same people that same they want to protect freedom and smaller government, but a lot of what Cain says is directed at lessening freedom and creating larger government. One component of the “9-9-9” is a national sales tax which impedes directly upon states rights who currently set their own sales taxes and is a key source of revenue for states. In addition, you then place more power in a central government that now holds a large source of revenue for the entire country. On top of that he has stated that he would not uphold nominations for any federal post if the person were a Muslim. This is blatant discrimination that opens the door to justifying a great deal of discrimination. We may not like some of the negative consequences of our freedom, but we’ve shown time and time again that discrimination in our country is no good for anyone and directly in conflict to who we say we are.

    On the other fronts we have people like Bachmann who is has (per her website) that “Repatriation” as the #1 point to gaining jobs back in the US. That same piece of legislation was tried in 2004 with the “Jobs Creation Act” and failed miserably. Not only did it not create jobs it lost jobs for a lot of people and only served to increase executive pay.

    Then you have Perry who up until he showed he has a heart and values human beings (illegal immigrants) as having worth has backs turned on him. Romney is still fighting to justify why he put into action for one state a healthcare plan he was so passionate about and being similar to President Obama’s plan is the wrong thing for the country. Likewise, he flip flops on basically every major issue.

    The bottom line for me is that from what we’ve seen over the last 2.5 years from the GOP front is that they will stand for any improvements or solutions unless it can have a “Republican Created” stamp on it. That’s not what is good for this country. And for both parties, if there is a mismatch in Congress and the White House we will simply see a repeat of the same last couple of years and no one benefits. It’s not party that needs to change. It’s attitude.

  2. Johnny Taxpayer says:

    @ BW, the sales tax component of Mr. Cain’s 9-9-9 plan does not impede upon State and County’s ability to collect their own sales tax. The sales tax collected by state and county governments remains unchanged. Another incorrect assertion in your post is that the sales tax somehow gives the Federal government more power, – This is inaccurate because the plan is revenue neutral. Which means it is simply an alternate method of collecting the same amount of tax the federal government collects now. Last year the Feds collected $2.3 trillion by means of a 40,000 page tax code, personal income tax, corporate income tax, capital gains tax, death/estate tax, and the payroll tax (Social security, medicare etc..) 9-9-9 throws out all those complicated tax systems and replaces them with a simple and transparent 9% personal income tax, 9% Corporate income tax, and a 9% national consumption tax on New items only.
    One of the additional benefits of 9-9-9 is the transparency, we currently have a system were the average tax payer doesn’t actually know how much tax they pay, this by itself empowers the “central government”… Most tax payers don’t know that while they pay 7.62% of every dollar earned, regardless of tax bracket, in payroll tax, their employer has to match that with another 7.62%. That’s a 15% tax that a lot of people don’t realize they pay! Not to mention all the taxes that are already embedded in the cost of goods and services… if people start realizing and connecting with how much they pay in taxes, they may start paying more attention.

  3. Liana G says:

    @ Jonny Taxpayer – explain this to me. It’s complicated and I’m confused

    “The University of Southern California’s Edward Kleinbard performs the thankless task of trying to figure out the actual impact of Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 campaign slogan cum tax plan, and he comes up with the following. Warning: It gets a little complicated:

    Now let’s put the three taxes together. Starting with $100 of pretax firm-level gross income available to pay salaries, the employee receives $91 in wages, and the firm pays $9 in “business flat tax.” The employee then pays $8.19 in “individual flat tax” (9 percent of $91.00). Finally, the employee incurs a $7.45 further tax (the sales tax, measured as 9 percent of $82.81 in post-flat tax cash available for consumption), leaving her with $75.36 after all federal taxes to invest or spend. That represents a 24.6 percent all-in tax on the firm’s gross income attributable to the employee’s added value. Converting the $24.64 in total tax to a payroll tax equivalent, by comparing that tax to the $91 in salary the employee receives, yields a payroll tax equivalent rate of 27 percent ($24.64/$91).

    In other words, when you take a look at the actual effect of the three different parts of Cain’s plan, they all act similarly to a flat payroll tax. And the three parts add up to 27 percent. This means that if you’re an average worker who spends most of your paycheck each month (in other words, virtually all of us), you’ll be paying 27 percent of your income in federal taxes under Cain’s plan. This compares to a current federal tax burden of about 14 percent for an average family.

    Bottom line: If you make, say, $50,000 a year, your current total federal tax burden is about $7,000. Under Herman Cain’s plan, it would be about $13,000. Even if you tweak the numbers a bit to make up for different measurement methodologies, that’s a big difference.”…

  4. dealingwithidiots1 says:

    His tax plan is plain and simple…finally! AND it makes the 51% of the population finally start paying some taxes rather then nothing at all.

  5. Johnny Taxpayer says:

    @ Liana, the math you cite is based on a couple of incorrect assumptions.
    #1. Most glaring is the failure to recognize the 15% payroll tax currently split between the W2 employee and the employer goes away under 9-9-9, this isn’t factored in the example cited.
    #2. The example fails to recognize the current 35% corporate income tax, which drops to 9% under 9-9-9
    #3. The example fails to recognize that every product or service currently produced by a company has embedded taxes in the price they ultimately charge the customer. That partially goes away under 9-9-9
    #4. The example assumes that everything purchased by the employee is brand new, and therefore subject to the 9% sales tax, when in reality a great amount of actual purchases made are used, and thus not subject to the 9% sales tax.
    #5, The example has the company paying 9% tax on $100 gross revenue, but in reality companies don’t pay tax on gross revenue (either currently or under 9-9-9) they pay tax on net profit, after expenses, including labor, are reduced from gross revenue. Gross Revenue – Expenses (including labor)= Net Profit, upon which either current 35% , or under 9-9-9 the corporate income tax is paid.

    Even looking passed the incorrect assumption that the firm pays $9 tax on $100 and is left with $91 to pay the employee, let’s move forward with your example.

    $91 to pay employee, under the current tax plan, regardless of tax bracket, 15% or $13.65 is paid in payroll tax, which leaves $77.35. Using your example of $50k income, lets assume the individual is married, that means their effective income tax rate under the current system 7.6% or $5.87 (7.6% of $77.35), which leaves $71.48 as their net take home pay. This means their over all (in real terms) tax burden is actually 22% ($71.48 net take home vrs $91 gross pay).

    Under 9-9-9 $91 gross pay, 9% income tax is $8.19, which means net pay is $82.81. Even if the employee spent all $82.81 on brand new purchases subject to the 9% sales tax, (which is highly unlikely ) 9% of $82.81 is $7.45 in sales tax, makes their tax burden 17%, but again even this is high because what do most people spend their money on? Housing and transportation. I live a “used” house and drive a used car, like a great many Americans. So if you figure the average mortgage payment makes up 25% of income (which is probably quite low) and car payment on a used car is 10% (again likely quite low) that means 35% or $29 of the $82.81 in income is not subject to the sales tax, which means your only paying sales tax on $53.81 of income, not $82.81 and means the over all tax burden drops to around 14% not 27% suggested in the example.

  6. Bill says:

    Great break down jtaxpayer

  7. Riley says:

    As one of the other Republican candidates as indicated, the 9-9-9 plan is really the evil 6-6-6 plan. It is a great paln for anyone making over $200,000 dollars, since their tax burden would be cut in half. The burden on the middle class family would be much greater than they are currently paying. Once again, it is a great plan for the filthy rich, such as the Koch brothers, who are bank rolling Herman Cain. Just another FAT CAT Republican taking care of his brothern.

  8. BW says:

    So Johnny Taxpayer, basically what he’s done is take the ‘Fair Tax’ lobbying group and is trying to sneak in the same tired idea under a new name. Likewise, the same people who think this is a great idea will use the same defense stances each time it is proven to be not so beneficial. Interesting try and will be a great way to not win a campaign.

    Dealingwithidiots1, I personally love that stat that many Republicans and Tea people jumped right on when the Congressman blurted it out not too long ago. Here’s the problem with statistics today like this one . . . there’s always more to the story. First of all it implies that those same people earn $0 and never purchase anything. Every wage earner does pay tax in many ways. Social Security Tax and Medicare taxes are deducted and not recouped by a worker. Likewise those same people pay sales taxes and property taxes. On top of it all, there are thousands of people each year that are $1M+ earners that also do not pay federal income tax.

  9. Liana G says:

    Okay FlaglerLive scrap my original post to my namesake and post this instead please. Thanks


    Here’s how this will affect the 51% you say are not paying, and let’s hope you’re not part of the 99% too!
    His plain and simple for the plain and simple folks, works like this.

    Finally everyone pays 9-9-9, but is this fair?

    That a person making 20,000 a year pay 9-9-9 the same rate that a person making 10,000,000 a year.

    Except that:

    Most persons making 10,000,000 a year make their money through capital gains so they will not pay any tax since Cain 9-9-9 tax also calls for doing away with the 15% capital gains tax.

    The person making 20,000 a year pays 9% sales tax. Since this person’s most likely has to live from paycheck to paycheck to survive in America, the sales tax will eat into a good portion of what is left from his/her final paycheck, not to mention zero money left over for any possible savings, leaving him/her forever in the poor house.

    On the other hand, the 10,000,000 a year individual barely puts a dent into his income for living expenses, so back it goes into investments making him richer and richer and richer and the cycle continues…and should his invesatment go sour, then the 20,000 taxpayer and the rest of the 99% will be bailing him out. The rich do not suffer financial losses in this country.

    Is this fair?

  10. Johnny Taxpayer says:

    @ Liana G, Wow. If you don’t like the 9-9-9 plan, that’s fine, but there’s no need to distort it to make your case.
    A) There is no capital gains tax under 9-9-9, but there is 9% income tax on all income! The distinction between “ordinary earned income” under today’s tax scheme and capital gains income, goes away under 9-9-9, so the “rich” person who makes their money via capital gains, still pays 9%, not zero as your example notes

    b) your example again FAILS to recognize the FACT that the person making $20k right now already pays 15% in payroll taxes, they pay 7.65% and their employer pays 7.65%, under 9-9-9 that goes away, so we go from 15% on $20k income down to 9% right off the bat. Again you imply that the $20k income earner uses all their net income to purchase NEW items subject to the 9% sales tax, but in reality that is not correct. Rent, which will make up at least 25-30% of that income is not subject to 9% sales tax. If they’re making $20k a year, I think it’s fair to assume they’re driving a new car, so their car payment on their used car is NOT subject to the 9% sales tax. That’s at least another 10-15% of their income. At a minimum 50% of the $20k wage earners income when spent is NOT going to be subject to the 9% sales tax.

    c) I don’t know how we ever got to this place in our culture where simply because someone is more successful, they should be expected to pay more taxes. But even setting that aside, what do “rich” people buy? BMW’s? Yachts? Private Airplanes? How much is 9% sales tax on a $5million yacht? Who is more likely to buy a new car, new house, new yacht, new airplane, the person making $20k a year? Or the person making $10mil a year???

    And finally, even apart from the direct individual gain under 9-9-9 regardless of income level, the 9-9-9 plan will take the USA from the highest corporate income tax rate in the world to the lowest. Do you think that might help the overall economy and unemployment situation? The 9-9-9 plan brings transparency to the tax code which is sadly missing. That in and of itself will bring much more scrutiny to the wasteful spending in the Federal Government. Ask the average American how much they paid in federal income tax last year and I guarantee the response from 90% of them will be “I got $x back”. They won’t tell you what they paid, because they don’t know! Which means our current tax system has very little transparency.

    Whether it’s 9-9-9, the fairtax, a flat tax, or any other idea, we, as a nation need to get away from this infatuation that our tax system needs to punish the wealthy first, and work for our overall economy second. Our tax system should be nothing more than a means of funding our government in the most economically efficient manner. But it’s not, it’s 40,000 pages of social engineering, and lobbiests through buying congressmen and senators, picking winners and losers in the economy, ironically enough the very thing LIANA G and others claim to be against.

  11. Liana G says:

    Okay FlaglerLive – will you at least post one! Take your pick from the last two, just post one!!

    @ Jonnytaxpayer – from people with a very coherent explanation

    “WASHINGTON — Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 tax plan would raise taxes on 84 percent of U.S. households, according to an independent analysis released Tuesday, contradicting claims by the Republican presidential candidate that most Americans would see a tax cut.

    The Tax Policy Center, a Washington think tank, says low- and middle-income families would be hit hardest, with households making between $10,000 and $20,000 seeing their taxes increase by nearly 950 percent.

    “You’re talking a $2,700 tax increase for people with incomes between $10,000 and $20,000,” said Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center. “That’s huge.”

    Households with the highest incomes, however, would get big tax cuts. Those making more than $1 million a year would see their taxes cut nearly in half, on average, according to the analysis.

    Among those in the middle, households making between $40,000 and $50,000 would see their taxes increase by an average of $4,400, the report said. Those making between $50,000 and $75,000 would see their annual tax bill go up by an average of $4,326.

    “It’s very, very regressive compared to the current system, and that’s largely because we’re exempting capital gains, and we’re taxing your spending with the sales tax,” Williams said. “People at the top end don’t spend all their money and they get a lot of capital gains, so they are doing pretty well here.”

    Cain’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In the past, Cain has acknowledged that taxes would increase for some but says taxes would decrease for most.

    “Some people will pay more, but most people would pay less is my argument,” Cain said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Who will pay more? The people who spend more money on new goods. The sales tax only applies to people who buy new goods, not used goods. That’s a big difference that doesn’t come out.”

    Cain’s plan would scrap current taxes on income, payroll, capital gains and corporate profits. He would replace them with a 9 percent tax on income, a 9 percent business tax and a 9 percent national sales tax.

    Cain’s campaign has gained momentum largely in response to his tax plan, which is popular in part because of its simplicity. Several polls have the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza at or near the top of the Republican field, vying with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

    Romney criticized the plan in a conference call with reporters Tuesday.

    “I believe that you’re going to find with the 9-9-9 plan Herman Cain has put out that the burden shifts more to the middle class, and I think that’s the wrong direction to go,” Romney said. “A decision to completely jettison our current tax system for a new system always has some merit, but then you need to get into it, to figure out who’s this going to help and who’s this going to hurt.”

    Cain’s rise in the polls has brought increased scrutiny, and his tax plan has taken hits from across the political spectrum. Some don’t like shifting the tax burden from the wealthy to the poor and middle class; others don’t like the new national sales tax.

    “Adding a retail sales tax to the federal government’s powerful tax armada would be a terrible idea from a small-government perspective,” Chris Edwards of the libertarian Cato Institute wrote in an opinion piece for The Daily Caller website.”…

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