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By Wolf Blitzer, CNN
(CNN) - With Herman Cain out of the Republican race for the White House, what happens to his “9-9-9” tax plan? The short answer, of course, is that it’s gone. What isn’t gone, though, is a desire for major tax reform in the United States.
All the candidates have come out with various proposals to reshape the way the government taxes people and corporations. There is an emerging consensus among Republicans and Democrats that the system is way too complicated, inefficient and costly. Fresh ideas are absolutely necessary.
The debate, which will intensify in the coming months, is how best to achieve that reform. One thing that clearly does emerge from Cain’s ill-fated presidential run is that a national sales tax - 9% in Cain’s model - is very unpopular. Indeed, Democrats and Republicans can agree they don’t like the idea.
Democrats think it’s regressive. Why, many of them ask, should rich Americans pay the same flat rate that poor and middle class Americans pay? They hate the idea.
Republicans don’t like a new revenue stream coming into the federal government. They fear that 9% today could easily become 15% tomorrow and 20% down the road.
Cain’s 9-9-9 plan was bitterly attacked by his Republican challengers precisely because of this element. Don’t let the federal government, they said, get a new source of your money. They will never give it up.
I think in the long term that, perhaps, will be the most important lesson from the Cain campaign. It underscored rather clearly that a new national sales tax is something Americans don’t want.
Republicans will no doubt continue to push for what they call a flatter and fairer tax but with no national sales tax component.
There’s one additional point forcefully made by Democrats and Republicans. The Europeans have their version of a national sales tax and look how well things have turned out for them.
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