Conservatives are concerned, as expressed by other candidates at Tuesday's debate, about how Herman Cain's '9-9-9' plan would impose a new national sales tax revenue stream and how easy it would make it for Congress in the future to increase an enticing 9 percent income tax rate. Liberals are upset by how the plan would raise taxes on those with lower incomes and reduce taxes on the wealthy. Guess on which worries the networks concentrated?
'A long list of economists say Cain's plan would hit the lower middle class hard,' ABC's Jonathan Karl fretted Wednesday night. On CBS, Wyatt Andrews focused on 'a double hit on low-income Americans' while 'upper income Americans' would see their 'tax rate slashed to nine percent.'
On ABC's World News, Karl warned:
But a long list of economists say Cain's plan would hit the lower middle class hard. A family of four with an income of $50,000 could end up paying much more under Cain's plan. Currently, they pay just under $4,000 in income taxes. Under Cain's plan, a nine percent tax with no deductions, they'd pay $4,500 - $650 more. They would save almost $4,000 in Social Security taxes, but those savings disappear because they'd have to give up the current child tax credit, worth the same amount. Further, they'd have to pay that nine percent national sales tax on everything new that they buy, approximately $2,000 in new sales taxes. That means under the Cain plan, this family could end up paying $2,725 more.
From the story on the Wednesday, October 12 CBS Evening News, which at least noted how 30 million households are now income tax freeloaders, but Wyatt Andrew treated making them pay something as a negative not a positive:
WYATT ANDREWS: If enacted, however, 9-9-9 would make filing taxes easy. Most families would pay a flat nine percent income tax with only one deduction for charitable contributions. There would be no tax on capital gains, which also leads to a simple conclusion:
ROBERTSON WILLIAMS, TAX POLICY CENTER: It will raise taxes on the poor. It will cut taxes on the rich.
ANDREWS: Robertson Williams of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center calls 9-9-9 a double hit on low-income Americans. The 30 million households that now pay no federal income taxes, including some families making up to $49,000, would start paying nine percent, plus the nine percent sales tax on consumer goods like food, medicine, and gasoline. Upper income Americans, meanwhile, would see their top 35 percent income tax rate slashed to nine percent.
WILLIAMS: They'd see very, very large tax cuts?
ANDREWS: Richer people would pay comparatively less.
WILLIAMS: They'd pay absolutely less than they're paying right now.
- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here  to follow Brent Baker on Twitter.