Herman Cain during a walk-through before the GOP presidential debate in… (Scott Eells / Bloomberg )
Despite the heavy topic of Tuesday night's debate about the economy and jobs, there were a number of light moments, especially around Herman Cain’s catchy-sounding “9-9-9” economic plan, which calls for abolishing the tax code (more or less) and replacing it with a 9% tax on corporate profits and personal income and a 9% sales tax.
“When you mention a flat tax,” Charlie Rose asked former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. , “does that mean that you look with some favor upon 9-9-9 that Herman Cain mentioned at the beginning of this conversation?”
“I think it's a catchy phrase,” Huntsman said. “In fact, I thought it was the price of a pizza when I first heard about it.”
As the crowd laughed, Huntsman added, “Well, here's what we need: 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.”
When the moderators tried to move on, Cain interrupted.
“9-9-9 will pass, and it is not the price of a pizza, because it has been well-studied and well-developed,” said Cain, the former chief executive of Godfather’s Pizza, who is credited with turning around the business when it was failing in the late 1980s. “It starts with, unlike your proposals, throwing out the current tax code. And it will pass, senator, because the American people want it to pass.”
A few minutes later, the topic came up again.
And this time, it was Michele Bachmann’s turn to tease Cain about the slogan. Her jab, however, turned into something less playful.
“9-9-9 is a tax plan, not a jobs plan,” she said, adding that giving Congress another revenue source could be dangerous. “Once you get another new revenue stream,” she said, "you’re never going to get rid of it. When you get the 9-9-9 plan and turn it upside down,” she said, with a sly look at Cain, “the devil’s in the details.”
She was, of course, referring to 666, the number of the Beast in the Book of Revelation.