Herman Cain, asked on Face the Nation whether the sales tax in his 9-9-9 tax… (Reuters Photo )
Reporting from Washington — Four Republican presidential hopefuls, along with senior advisors to President Obama, took to the airwaves Sunday to trade political jabs and tout their prescriptions for boosting the economy.
In appearances on the TV talk shows, GOP candidates Herman Cain and Texas Gov. Rick Perry pointed to their respective plans to simplify the federal tax code as key to economic growth.
"This plan is about getting people back to work, putting confidence in the American entrepreneur to know that the regulations are not going to be there," Perry said on "Fox News Sunday."
His proposal would allow people to opt for a 20% flat tax or stick with the current tax code. Under the plan, wealthy Americans would see the largest decrease in their tax bill.
"Historically, those who have money put more money into their business," Perry said. "They hire more people."
Cain, who has been promoting his signature "9-9-9" tax plan, faced questions of tax fairness on CBS' "Face the Nation."
Asked whether a 9% national sales tax on goods would disproportionately burden the poor and middle class, Cain said that simplification of the broader tax code would eliminate "invisible embedded taxes," bringing down prices overall.
"The cost of those items are going to go down," Cain said. "That's the hardest part to sell, but we're willing to take on that fight."
The other elements of Cain's plan are 9% flat taxes on personal and corporate income.
White House surrogates campaigned for the president's proposals to jump-start growth.
David Axelrod, a senior advisor to Obama's reelection campaign, touted the president's multi-pronged approach, which includes the stalled jobs bill and initiatives to help more homeowners refinance.
The problems "are deep, they are complicated and they're going to require sustained perseverance and lots of ideas," Axelrod said on CNN's "State of the Union." "There's no silver bullet for them, so you have to keep chipping away at this problem, and that is what he's doing."
Another senior Obama advisor, David Plouffe, promoted the White House's economic agenda on NBC's "Meet the Press," and took a swipe at one of the leading candidates for the GOP presidential nomination, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
"You get the sense with Mitt Romney that if he thought it was good to say the sky was green and the grass was blue to win an election, he'd say it," Plouffe said.
Texas Rep. Ron Paul, also appearing on CNN, called for dramatically slashing the federal budget and disbanding the departments of Energy and Education.
"We face dire consequences," Paul said. "So if we want to save some of these programs — which I make an attempt to do, save Social Security and medical care for the indigent, and some of even the educational programs — we have to do something."
Paul, who consistently lags in the polls, said he would not run on a third-party ticket if he failed to win the Republican nomination.
"I have no intention of doing it. Nobody's particularly asked me to do it.... And I have no plans whatsoever to do it," Paul said.
Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann dinged Obama's foreign policy, accusing the president of "taking [his] eye off the fundamental problem" in the Middle East: the possibility of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon.
Appearing on ABC's "This Week," she also criticized the U.S.-backed military intervention in Libya. She said "the last chapter isn't written" because the death of longtime dictator Moammar Kadafi has left a leadership vacuum and "potentially extremist elements" could take power.