or at least he did only eleven months ago.
What struck me about the plan was the extremely non-conservative nature of the plan (for the past 30 years conservatives have opposed new taxes or increases in existing taxes), in this case the implementation of a national sales tax, and the naïveté involved in proposing a brand new tax based upon the underlying assumption that no one will ever raise that tax.
Much to my surprise, or not, I found that his supporters were completely in favor of a new federal tax on retail sales and that the idea that said tax would ever increase was roundly discounted as bogus and a strawman. This despite the fact that the current federal income tax had a top rate of 7% when it was first introduced and the VAT debuted in Britain at 8% and now is a healthy 20%
Today I found out that Herman Cain agrees with me. A national retail tax is a really bad idea.
Back on November 21, 2010, Herman Cain authored an opinion piece that appeared in several locations under the title Don't Be VAT Stupid. You can see it was picked up by outlets as diverse as Whirled Nuts Daily, Daily Caller.... and Red State.
The diary received quite a few recommendations:
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I'll provide this extended quote from Mr. Cain's Red State post:
Here are three of the biggest reasons the national retail sales tax is the worst idea on the table.
First, we have a spending problem in Washington, D.C. not a revenue problem. The Commission claims their goal is to reduce the deficits by $4 trillion over the next decade. The task force says its plan would save $6 trillion by 2020. It’s sort of like dueling promises that would never happen, because when has a proposed cut in Washington D.C. ever produced the intended savings over 10 years? Never!
Even worse is reason number two: In every country that has established a VAT with the promise of reducing their national debt, the VAT has eventually gone up or expanded on top of the existing tax structure. After discovering many of the tax grenades in the recently passed health care deform bill, which is already driving costs up and access down, it would be real easy for an overzealous bureaucrat to insert the language in the legislation “national retail and wholesale” tax.
For the liberal naysayers who say that would not happen, you lose! Just look at the Social Security system, Medicare and Medicaid. Over the years since their inception, taxes have gone up, benefits have gone down and they are still on a path of insolvency.
Both the Commission and the Task Force say very little about how costs would be contained, because that’s the real big bodacious problem. Even if their plans could achieve their stated goals over the next 10 years, the current administration and Congress have increased spending nearly $4 trillion in the last two years. And the only hope that it will slow down is the new change of control in the House of Representatives.
Giving the administration and Congress another tool to tax us and confuse us is like giving an alcoholic a key to the liquor store with no supervision, only to discover that he locks the door after he is safely inside.
A national retail sales tax on top of all the confusing and unfair taxes we have today is insane! It gives the out-of-control bureaucrats and politicians in denial one more tool to lie, deceive, manipulate and destroy this country.
The third reason the national retail sales tax on top of all the taxes we already pay is a bad idea, is that there is already proposed legislation that replaces all of the federal taxes we pay. It replaces all current revenue. It supercharges our national economic growth, and puts the power of taxation back into the hands of the people who spend their money.
You know what, Mr. Cain is absolutely correct on all three points. The question for his supporters is what happened between November 2010 and this summer that persuaded Mr. Cain to toss his perfectly sensible opposition to a national sales tax under the bus in favor of 9-9-9? And while they are at it they should ask themselves the same question.