When I first read Herman Cain's 9-9-9 tax proposals my first thought was, "Now that sounds eminently fair." I did realize that I would be paying more taxes myself but if it is fair to everyone, then what the heck!
Then I started thinking the thing through a little more. Let's start with a 9 percent flat tax on household income - a real break for the rich instead of their 35 percent current rate. But of course they don't pay that 35 percent anyway. Warren Buffett stated that he only paid 19 percent of his income for 2006 while his employees paid 33 percent of theirs.
Additionally, no mention has been made of income earned overseas, income that is currently exempt from U.S. taxes - Corporate tax: a 9 percent corporate tax sounds about right? Could be higher.
National sales tax: A 9 percent national sales tax is definitely more questionable. Presumably this would be on top of the current state, county and city sales taxes. For Kingman this would be sales tax of 17.85 percent. And to this we can add the sales tax on currently exempted items - food and prescription drugs for example.
Certainly the 9 percent sales tax initially seems to be fair. The rich pay 9 percent on their new Mercedes while the less fortunate pay 9 percent on the diapers for the baby. But the Mercedes is an optional purchase while the diapers are not.
Perhaps we should not obsess on 9-9-9. There may be a better combination, perhaps 10-7-4, 8-12-7 or some other combination.
Of course the bottom line is that such a proposal as 9-9-9 or variations on it could never pass. Why not? Because it would eliminate all the exemptions that lobbyists have bought from congressman and senators over the years. With no money coming in from lobbyists, what is a poor politician to do to get money to get reelected? Lobbyists of course are very persistent and immediately after passage of such a bill they would immediately start lobbying for exemptions.
The bottom line - any change, any change at all to our current almost criminally biased taxation system, would be an improvement. Even 9-9-9, flawed as it is, would be better than what we have now.