Perry Combative, Cain Struggles to Defend Tax Plan

Texas governor Perry avenged himself for a number of poor debate performances while Cain had trouble explaining his tax plan.

Texas governor Rick Perry avenged himself against his fellow Republican contenders for the presidential nomination during a CNN primary debate in Las Vegas, Nevada where he vehemently attacked his competitors on immigration and tax policy

During a heated exchange over illegal immigration, Perry accused former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney of once having hired an illegal worker and called him a hypocrite. Romney has always denied knowledge of the controversy that was uncovered during his first presidential run in 2008. “I’m running for office for Pete’s sake,” he remembered telling the contractor who hired an undocumented worker to tend his lawn. “I can’t have illegals.”

Visibly agitated after Perry hadn’t allowed him his rebuttal, Romney criticized the Texan for refusing to build a fence on the border with Mexico and publicly financing the education of the children of illegal immigrants in his state. “If there’s someone who has a record as governor with regard to illegal immigration that doesn’t stand up to muster, it’s you, not me,” said Romney.

Although Perry and Romney are considered the most viable of the Republican Party’s presidential contenders, former business Herman Cain has gained traction in opinion polls as Perry’s popularity plummeted in reaction to his lackluster performance in the previous debates. Both top tier candidates went after his plan for tax reform last night which would reduce the business and personal income tax rates to 9 percent while imposing a 9 percent nationwide sales tax.

“You don’t have to have a big analysis to figure this thing out,” Perry suggested. “Go to New Hampshire where they don’t have a sales tax and you’re fixing to give them one,” he said, referring to the state that traditionally holds the first primary in the nomination contest. “They’re not interested in 9-9-9. What they’re interested in is flatter and fairer.” He promised to deliver his own plan for tax reform soon.

Cain argued that his national sales tax would not amount to a value-added tax because it removes “the hidden taxes that are in goods and services” and replaces them with a single 9 percent rate. His competitors pointed out though that the 9 percent would come on top of the sales taxes that are imposed by many individual states. “The people in Nevada don’t want to pay both taxes,” according to Romney.

Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann, a former tax attorney, has repeatedly warned that future legislators might be tempted to increase the 9 percent rates to raise more revenue.

Cain claims that his 9-9-9 plan would be revenue neutral but independent analysis has suggested that it would fall some $400 billion short of the $2.16 trillion the federal government takes in under the current tax regime — which is approximately a trillion dollars less than what Washington spends this year.