GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain appeared on MBNBC following the Republican debate at the Ronald Reagan Library and I have to think he probably enjoyed being interviewed by hosts of their prime time lineup, with the exception of Eugene Robinson who is just one of their regular contributors, about as much as someone would having a root canal done, since his assertions were actually challenged rather than the friendly type of interviews he's used to over at Fox News where you'll normally find him showing up on the air.
Al Sharpton started if off with challenging him with his views on states' rights and pointed out that if it weren't for the federal government stepping in and doing something about states that wanted to suppress minority rights, people like himself and Cain would not even be allowed to run for president right now. Cain countered by saying he wasn't talking about civil rights and said he doesn't want to touch “those kind of rights” and that it was other pesky overreaches by the federal government he was talking about.
He then went on to say he was offering actual “solutions” to issues like keeping Social Security solvent and cited his support for us moving to a model like Chile. Eugene Robinson pointed out that he'd actually covered South America and Chile for The Washington Post, and that what Chile had done there was indeed privatization of their pension system. Robinson asked Cain what the difference was between “privatization and privatization.”
Cain responded by saying that the difference was that in Chile, when they retire, “they have an account with their name on it” and said “that's not privatization” and called it “personal retirement accounts” instead. As Lawrence O'Donnell pointed out in his follow up, no matter what label you want to put on it such as “personalization”, what Chile did was to privatize their pension plans.
O'Donnell went on to ask Cain about the fact that today's GOP loves to invoke the parts of Ronald Reagan's so-called legacy that they like, but that they ignore how he actually governed, such as being willing to raise taxes and heaven forbid at times work with Democrats to get legislation passed. Cain pretty well punted on that one and said he didn't want to debate what Reagan did right or wrong, but was more interested in how to get our economy moving again and how to get Americans back to work.
He touted his 999 plan and Ed Schultz followed on that. As Schultz pointed out, Cain's plan would reduce corporate taxes down to nine percent, personal income taxes down to nine percent and a national sales tax of nine percent. As he noted, that plan would do nothing but favor the rich and “hit lower income people really hard” and he asked Cain what his math was on that. Cain claimed that it didn't favor the rich and said instead it “levels the playing field” and benefits everyone.
He also touted creating “empowerment zones” to help impoverished areas such as Detroit, which Schultz pointed out would be another government program to help the city of Detroit, and he reiterated his opinion that Cain's plan favors the rich because it would reduce the wealthiest American's tax obligation from thirty three percent down to nine percent.
Cain still claimed that his plan would help all Americans and not just the rich, and if they just looked at it more closely, maybe they'd come around to his point of view. It's too bad he wasn't around to respond to a little more of their follow up once he went off the air.
As Rachel Maddow noted after he went off the air, if the “great tax in America is a national sales tax” that hurts poor people who spend a much greater portion of their income buying things as opposed to rich people who don't have to spend that much of that they earn to actually survive and pay their bills. And as Lawrence O'Donnell pointed out, the whole claim about poor people not paying any taxes is ridiculous, since as even Cain pointed out, they're paying more in payroll taxes than they do in income taxes. And Eugene Robinson wrapped it up by reiterating that what Chile has done, is to privatize their pension system.
I await Herman Cain coming on Fox to complain about how he was ganged up on by the horrible mean liberals who dared to challenge him on his talking points and treated unfairly following this interview at MSNBC.