Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman mocked rival Herman Cain's 9-9-9 tax plan at the Republican presidential debate Tuesday night, quipping, as "It's a catchy phrase, in fact I thought it was the price of a pizza."
"Here's what we need, something that's doable-doable-doable," Huntsman continued during the Bloomberg/Washington Post debate in New Hampshire.
He called for phasing out "all of the corporate welfare, all of the subsidies, because we can't afford it any longer, in a revenue-neutral fashion" and a reduction in the corporate tax rate from 35 to 25 percent.
Cain, the former Gofather's Pizza CEO who has shot to the top of polls of Republican presidential candidates, responded that his 9-9-9 tax plan - a proposal to replace the current tax code with a nine percent flat income tax, a nine percent corporate tax and a nine percent national sales tax - "will pass and it is not the price of pizza, because it has been well-studied and well-developed. It starts with, unlike your proposals, throwing out the current tax code."
He went on to say the plan, which economists say would reduce the revenue coming into the government, starts with "throwing out the current tax code." (Cain claims the plan is revenue neutral, and said during the debate that analysis that says otherwise is "incorrect" because his plan "expands the base.")
Rep. Michele Bachmann also hammered Cain's plan, saying, "The 9-9-9 plan isn't a jobs plan, it is a tax plan." She complained that the plan gives Congress a new "revenue stream" that will be impossible to keep under control, and her campaign later sent reporters an email suggesting it would "wreck the economy."
"You turn the 9-9-9 plan upside down, and the devil's in the details," she said -- possibly suggesting that the plan was actually "6-6-6" -- the "number of the beast" in the Bible.
Rick Santorum also said the plan "cannot pass" because a nine percent sales tax couldn't be implemented in a state like New Hampshire, which has no sales tax, and echoed Bachmann's comment that giving the Senate power over an income tax is a bad idea.
And Rick Perry said "I don't need 9-9-9, we don't need any plan to pass Congress," He called for a president to "free up this country's entrepreneurs."
Cain later challenged Mitt Romney to name every part of his 59-point economic plan, saying his plan is simple and transparent by comparison. Romney responded that problems are not always as simple as you might want them to be, then went on to lay out some of his proposals, though not tru to name all 59 points.
Responding to the notion that the Congress will increase the sales tax about nine percent, Cain said later that he would require Congress to mandate that a 2/3rds vote be required to raise the tax -- something that some scholars have suggested is unconstitutional.
For what it's worth, the #1 "Pizza Package" at Godfather's is currently going for...$9.99.