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Herman Cain: The Koch Brothers, 999 origins, and drunk-driving laws

At the front of the GOP presidential pack, former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain is having his moment in the political sun. Which also means he’s going under the journalistic microscope. This morning’s papers are packed with pieces on Cain.

To help you keep up with the media’s continued vetting of Cain, here’s a review of the top pieces from this weekend and Monday:

1. Herman Cain’s appearance on NBC’s “Meet The Press” Sunday.

Two bits of news emerged from this interview. First, as Decoder wrote this weekend, Cain said his applause line at a recent rally – about installing a fence along the Mexican border with electric barbed wire capable of killing those trying to enter the US illegally – was a “joke” and that America “needs to get a sense of humor.”

Second, Cain acknowledged that some Americans would pay more in taxes under his “999 plan.” Which Americans, specifically? According to Cain: “The people who spend more money on new goods.”

2. Herman Cain and the Koch Brothers

The Washington Post inspected Cain’s ties to the left’s favorite monied GOP bogeymen, Charles and David Koch, finding:

Cain’s campaign manager and a number of aides have worked for Americans for Prosperity, or AFP, the advocacy group founded with support from [the Kochs], which lobbies for lower taxes and less government regulation and spending. Cain credits a businessman who served on an AFP advisory board with helping devise his “9-9-9” plan to rewrite the nation’s tax code. And his years of speaking at AFP events have given the businessman and radio host a network of loyal grassroots fans.

3. The history of “999”

The Wall Street Journal’s Neil King, Jr. digs into the formation of the “999 Plan,” finding Cain and economic advisor Rich Lowrie sought – and received – a blessing from conservative tax guru Arthur Laffer. Laffer, “often viewed as the father of supply-side economics,” reportedly signed 999 with a red A+.

In practice, Mr. Lowrie’s design combines two ideas that have figured prominently in conservative tax debates in recent years. One idea is a flat tax (Mr. Laffer for years has championed this idea). The other is a national sales tax.

Admirers see it as a breath of fresh air in what is often a stultifying debate over how to rewrite the mammoth U.S. tax code. Many conservative economists have praised the Cain approach’s shift to taxing consumption while encouraging savings and investment. But some business people—particularly retailers but also home builders—cringe at the prospect of a national sales tax. And liberals worry it would raise taxes on lower-income people, or deepen the current deficits, or maybe both.

4. Is Herman Cain a serious contender?

Two pieces dig into whether Cain, who has only recently rocketed up to top-tier status, has the desire and/or ability to start building the kind of team necessary to compete with the serious organizations of Mitt Romney and Rick Perry.

Neil King, Jr. of the Wall Street Journal writes:

Now, under increasing scrutiny, [Cain] needs to hone his message, rapidly build a campaign organization to capture the swell and, perhaps most importantly in the eyes of national GOP operatives, give himself over to the discipline of a national campaign….

Cain aides say they are hiring campaign staff at a breakneck pace, looking to nearly double the payroll to about 60 by the end of the month. They opened a South Carolina headquarters 10 days ago and are bulking up operations in Iowa and New Hampshire, where Mr. Cain has shot up in the polls.

The Washington Post’s Amy Gardner begins her piece by looking at Cain’s current lack of such an organization:

As presidential contender Herman Cain launched a bus tour across Tennessee this weekend, his advisers couldn’t explain why he would spend precious time in a state that is far down the list of crucial primaries.

Moments away from an appearance at a diner in Concord, N.H., Cain’s people didn’t know the name or address of the place.

And Cain’s organization is so thin in key early states that one New Hampshire strategist said that when activists have asked where to learn more about the candidate, there was no one in the state to refer them to.

Still, Cain is drawing massive crowds and – so far, at least – the more traditional trappings haven’t paid off much for Perry or Romney.

“If Facebook could be used to topple the Egyptian government, then perhaps Herman Cain can use it to win Iowa,” said Phil Musser, a Republican strategist who most recently worked for the short-lived presidential bid of former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty. “Thus far, the traditional approach to running for president in 2012 has paid few dividends, and the old must-dos have proven to be less important milestones than expected.”

5. Lobbying against stricter drunk driving regulations?

As head of the National Restaurant Association, Cain lobbied against a national law imposing a .08 percent blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for a driving under the influence charge, Benjy Sarlin of Talking Points Memo writes:

“The problem is not the responsible drinker,” Cain wrote in one letter to the editor.” It is the alcohol-abuser who gets behind the wheel of a car. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, two-thirds of all alcohol-related fatalities are caused by drivers with a BAC of 0.15 or higher.”

Go beyond:

Find out if Herman Cain will be in your state by checking out his schedule.

Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Larry Clifton on 10/18/2011 - 08:51 am.

    Obama has Soros and friends. Big deal if Cain has the Kochs in his corner. Herman Cain is on a roll. This weekend’s South Carolina straw poll results show Herman Cain w/55% (woo hoo!), Gingrich w/14.5%, and Bachmann w/8%. The RINO twins, Perry and Romney, with all their ‘deep pockets’ and party connections, were barely blips on the radar. LOL. Are you listening GOP mogul/king-makers? How about you media pundits? Bill O’Reilly? Karl Rove? How about you G. Soros? Obama? Can you ‘feel’ us yet? ‘We the People’ are telling you as clearly as we can poll after poll after poll. People know that Mr. Herman Cain listens to US. He ‘feels’ US. He may not have the money the Twins have…but…Money can’t buy you LOVE!
    The RINOs and the Dems are used to telling us about all the things they will do to make things better. But we see ‘clearly’ that…THEY are the problem. Both parties have consistently made bad decisions that have resulted in things getting worse and worse and worse. Worst economy since the Great depression. Workin’ on 15 trillion in debt. Can we trust THEM to fix things they are responsible for mucking up? I think the American people are saying NO to that one. Respectfully….

  2. Submitted by Larry Clifton on 10/18/2011 - 08:53 am.

    The ‘critics’ and demagogues are working 24/7 to discredit and dismiss Herman Cain’s 999 plan. Think about this…
    Can you imagine a candidate, any candidate from any party, running on a platform of tax reform…and trying to sell the American people the 70,000+ page tax code we have now…Treat it like people are treating Cain’s plan…you know dig in there real good, bring in all the ‘experts’, and dissect it extra thoroughly so we can all see the lobbyist inspired loop-holes, the deals for ‘special interest’, and everything else that is ‘unfair’ and carefully ‘buried in there somewhere’. AND heaven forbid you are late paying your share (assuming you are in the 49% that actually pay). The ‘funny math’ penalties and interest will literally kill you. That my friends would be a pretty tough ‘sell’ to the American people today. I’m thinking that poor fool, and the party he represented, would be run out of town on a rail…the whole bunch tarred and feathered. Old school stuff. Bachmann said the DEVIL is in the details. Well it is in the old code for sure! Herman Cain’s simple 999 plan, without all the ‘hidden deals’ looks GREAT and FAIR compared to what we have now. Get real. Wake up. The demagogues are wrong. Mr. Cain’s 999 plan is fair and good for all Americans. The old system is unfair and unwanted. Help rid America of a horrible tax code/system. Vote for Mr. Herman Cain and personal and economic freedom.

  3. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 10/18/2011 - 12:57 pm.

    The democrats fear Cain for two main reasons:

    1. His message is resonating with ordinary Americans who have been promised a simplified tax code for decades and now they have one in writing.

    2. Herman Cain could peel off a significant number of black voters who now have a choice between a conservative and a liberal.

    Black people of Herman Cain’s generation are much more conservative than Obama is and now they have a candidate who shares their views. This would be devastating to the Obama campaign since he’s pretty much down to his core supporters of women and minorities. If Cain took 30% of the black vote, Obama’s toast.

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