When someone asked me who that person was I believe my response was, “I don’t know, but I know he’s there.”
That man was Herman Cain, an obscure name to most Americans outside of Georgia and the pizza industry. A man who had, quite literally, zero name recognition before the first Presidential debate. No one knew who he was, what he had been through, or any of his beliefs. He was just there.
The consensus at the beginning of Cain’s campaign was that he had no chance of winning. He was an unknown candidate running in a race that would largely focus on electability. And he had no political experience, outside of filing papers to run for the White House in 2000 and U.S. Senate in 2004.
The question was, how long would Herman Cain remain “there?”
After several debates and a major straw poll victory under his belt, screw just being there, Herman Cain is, as Randy Jackson would say, in it to win it. The question is now, “could this man really win this election?”
Cain has surged to nearly the top tier following a strong debate performance in the Fox News-Google debate. It could not have come at a better time, shortly after the debate he won the Florida Straw Poll, a poll that fellow contender Rick Perry was angling heavily to win. And in perfect public relations and marketing fashion, Cain released a book this week.
Talk about a fantastic 10 days.
But why now? Cain has performed well in nearly every debate. He’s been the only contender to consistently answer the questions directly and he rarely stumbles. Why all of a sudden is he surging?
For starters, Cain had a tumultuous transition into the national spotlight. He made several foreign policy blunders and he was quoted as saying he wouldn’t appoint a Muslim to his cabinet. In all fairness, he’s since put a qualifier on that, essentially saying he would heavily vet any cabinet potential to assure the nation they are not a jihadist, but none-the-less, the blunders distracted Cain from pushing his common sense economic reforms.
Now that he’s got those missteps behind him, he has been able to focus his attention squarely on the economy and his solutions to bring it back to life. Which brings us to the second reason for his surge; the man makes sense.
His tax plan is simple and concise. It’s the 9-9-9 plan, I’m sure you remember it because, well uh, it’s easy to remember. Nine percent national sales tax, nine percent corporate income tax, and nine percent personal income tax.
It is quick and easy. And if you’d like more details, just ask him. On The Tonight Show, Jay Leno asked why it was fair for rich people to pay the same rate as someone making $25,000 a year.
Cain began his response by saying it is fair, and he’s right. In fact both those people paying the same rate is fairer than the current system. What isn’t “fair” in some people’s mind are the incomes, but let’s not forget, fair is not equal. The government’s job is to create and maintain a fair environment so that everyone has the opportunity to make whatever wage they see fit. The government’s job is not to make sure everyone has an equitable wage.
But Cain continued saying his plan would do away with the payroll tax, which currently stands at about 15%, so that person making $25,000 would actually see a net drop of 6% in their overall taxes.
He also said that his 9% national sales tax would only be applied to new goods. So, for example, if you purchase a used car, you wouldn’t owe national sales tax, just state sales tax.
The plan is easy and simple. And compared to a tax code that no human currently alive has read completely, it’s refreshing.
Compare it to Obama’s plan. While Cain’s plan is simple and easy to remember, Obama’s plan is complicated and overbearing. The payroll tax break alone is confusing because to be eligible you have to meet many requirements including only having one job and not being a dependent. However, even if you are not eligible you still get the extra money on your paycheck, you just have to pay it back come tax time.
We all assume that taxes are complicated and therefore any tax plan must be complicated. If it is complicated, it must be robust and comprehensive.
Clearly that is false.
Cain appeals to people because he makes sense. He makes government sound simple and easy. And most people agree that is how government should operate.
Before his surge Cain was polling at around 5%, since then he’s bumped his average up to 9%. In a Fox News poll he was polling at 17% – putting him in the top tier with Romney and Perry. Is he ready for top tier status? Not quite, there are still major foreign policy question he has to answer. And his lack of political “know-how” is troubling to some. But if there’s one thing Cain is succeeding at, it is challenging other republican contenders to offer simple and easy-to-understand solutions to solving our country’s problems.
Good news for Cain: there are several debates left on the calendar, and if he keeps performing like he has been, he’ll have a legitimate shot at top-tier status.