Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON - At a time when the American left is beating its war drums to raise taxes on "the rich", Herman Cain wants to slash their income tax rates to 9 percent.

Cain, who's had a successful career in business, and makes his living as a talk show host, inspirational speaker and author, is running for president of the United States on a flat tax platform that would wipe out the entire tax code and replace it with what he calls his 9-9-9 tax plan.

That plan would replace the monstrously complicated, inefficient and unfair tax code with a flat tax on Americans no matter what you earn. That would mean a flat 9 percent income tax and a flat 9 percent corporate-business tax. At present the top tax rate on the highest income earners and largest corporations is 35 percent.

For many Americans that sounds too good to be true because they're paying a much higher percentage now under our progressive tax system. And that may be part of the reason why Cain is surging ahead in the polls for the Republican presidential nomination. In one poll this week, he has moved ahead of frontrunner Mitt Romney.

But wait a minute, Cain would also add a third 9 to the federal revenue code that's never been there before: a fat nine percent national sales tax on everything you buy, from bread to milk to breakfast cereal.

That's right, a nationwide sales tax collected by the money-hungry, big government bureaucrats in Washington on top of all the state sales taxes that most of our citizens pay now. Of the 50 states, only four do not levy a sales tax: New Hampshire, Delaware, Montana and Alaska. But all the others do and they are whoppers. In California it's 8.25 percent; Illinois, 6.25; Connecticut, 6.35; Indiana, 7; Minnesota, 6.87; and Mississippi, the poorest state, 7.

These states are not going to bow down to the federal behemoth, even under President Cain, and eliminate their state sales taxes in deference to the federal government. If anything, some, if not many, may raise their sales taxes further to deal with a growing mountain of debt they now face in the Obama economy.

And if Cain's 9 percent sales tax were implemented, what's to prevent future Congresses from raising the 9 percent rate to 10, 11, 12 or higher. He says he would make sure that any tax increase would require a hard-to- muster super-majority, though that idea has been pushed before and has never gotten anywhere. Presidents have little if any influence on the legislative branches rules.

The bottom line is that Herman Cain's 9 percent sales tax would open up a new source of addictive revenue for the feds that, once enacted, would tax us forever.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.