Cain Plan's Reagan-Era Roots

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Herman Cain's "9-9-9" plan might have been called the "Optimal Tax."

The Republican presidential candidate's economic adviser, Rich Lowrie, thought the plan's broad sweep and ultra-low 9% rates made it an ideal tool to revamp the tax code and encourage growth.

Mr. Cain liked the idea, but not the name Mr Lowrie came up with.

"We can't call it that," Mr. Cain said during a cab ride through Nashville in July, according to Mr. Lowrie. Instead, the former pizza-chain executive, tapping his instinct for marketing, concluded: "We're just going to call it what it is: 9-9-9." ("What kind of nerd am I?" Mr. Lowrie says now.)...

Mr. Cain's plan clearly has roots in the Reagan-era antitax movement. In constructing the proposal, Mr. Lowrie consulted with conservative tax icon Arthur Laffer, often viewed as the father of supply-side economics. Many conservatives continue to espouse his view that lower tax rates and a wider tax base can accelerate investment and production, and even produce greater tax revenue in certain circumstances. Liberals say Mr. Laffer's ideas led to over-optimistic assumptions about how low tax rates could go....

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