Romney pans Cain’s 9-9-9 plan before CNN debate, calls it a tax increase on most of the middle class

Chris Moody

Mitt Romney has remained relatively quiet about Herman Cain's "9-9-9" economic plan, but during a conference call with supporters on Tuesday, Romney offered some serious criticisms of the tax proposal, calling parts of it "troubling."

"If you do a back of the envelope calculation, you'll find that many, many people and, probably on average, most people in middle income categories will have their taxes go up under a 9-9-9 plan," Romney told his New Hampshire supporters on a conference call, after being asked his opinion of 9-9-9.

Cain's plan would replace the entire federal tax code--income taxes,  payroll taxes, capital gains taxes, estate taxes and more--with a 9 percent sales tax, a 9 percent tax on personal income tax and a 9 percent tax on business income.

The conference call took place a few hours before Tuesday's presidential debate in Nevada, a state that stirred up controversy by moving its caucuses ahead of New Hampshire's primary election date. Several candidates have threatened not to participate in the Nevada caucuses and on, Jon Huntsman, is boycotting Tuesday's debate.

Romney continues to campaign in the state, but when given the opportunity to confront him about, the New Hampshire Republicans asked instead about the economy, specifically about Cain's economic plan.

"I think it's going to be pretty clear over the coming weeks as we take a close look at Herman Cain's proposal that there will be some people who find it very troubling," Romney said. "There will be some, by the way, who find that their taxes will go down a lot, and they'll find it very attractive. There are others who will find that their taxes go up a lot."

On the call, George Lovejoy, the co-founder of the Granite State Taxpayers Association, warned that Cain's proposal to impose a federal sales tax could hurt seniors on fixed incomes.

"If you're right that senior citizens who are living on a fixed income would suddenly find their costs go up a nine percent sales tax, that could be very difficult indeed, and very troubling," Romney said. "If you're right, it hurts senior citizens, and I think that what you described, you may well be right on that, then that's not something that's going to fly with the American public and it certainly wouldn't fly with me."

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