At a campaign event in Detroit Friday, Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain revealed exceptions to his 9-9-9 tax proposal that make the plan less like the flat tax that his supporters have made it out to be.
Cain scheduled Friday's speech after other Republican candidates attacked his plan at Tuesday's CNN debate.
"This is a day that we have an opportunity to explain 9-9-9 without six attacks at one time," Cain declared.
"So, here are two of the features my competitors didn't get to when they didn't read the plan... If you are at or below the poverty level, your plan isn't 9-9-9, it's 9-0-9. Say, amen, y'all. 9-0-9. In other words, if you are at or below the poverty level based on family size and because it's a different number for each one then you don't pay that middle nine tax on your income."
He continued: "The 'opportunity zones' will allow cities like Detroit to qualify for additional exemptions relative to the first nine. Right now on the first nine, you can deduct purchases if you are a business, you can deduct capital expenditures, net exports, but for those cities that will qualify as 'opportunity zones,' you will also be able to deduct a certain amount of your payroll expenses so you will be incentited [sic] to put people to work."
The Wall Street Journal's Stephen Moore has praised Cain's plan as coming "closest to a true flat tax."
"His argument for a '9-9-9' plan puts the current income and payroll taxes in the shredder and replaces them with a 9% personal income tax with no deductions, a 9% net business income tax, and a 9% national sales tax," Moore wrote in September. "That would be rocket fuel for the economy, though the combination of a federal sales tax and an income tax is a big worry."