by Max Brantley
The emerging Republican campaign theme, that only the rich pay enough in taxes and more than half the country needs to pay more, is simply stunning.
Will voters really buy that? Fairness means sticking it to the poor and middle class?
And don't get me started on Herman Cain's 9—9-9 plan.
Put a pencil to that insanity. It would produce an enormous windfall for the wealthy with a 9 percent income tax. (It would save Warren Buffett more than $3 million, for example.) But it would put a 9 percent tax on the majority of Americans who aren't paying a levy now. Republicans cheer this. If they were making $20,000 a year at a fast food restaurant to support a family, they might not be so cheerful about the loss of $1,800.
And what about Cain's 9 percent sales tax? In the Little Rock area, that would make your tax on a kiddie meal at McDonald's 20 percent or so of the purchase price, counting the still applicable local levies. Also on clothing. Nearly that much on groceries. The burden on big-ticket items — think cars — would be crushing.
This is fair? (Cain's numbers also don't add up to revenue neutrality, many believe.)
GOOD NEWS: Some indication here that Tea Party thinking can be political poison. Link Republicans to the Tea Party (that's easy in Arkansas) and Democrats have something to work with, particularly among independent voters. It worked in a Republican-dominated district in North Carolina this week.