Main Street vs. Wall Street: Cain Contrasts Himself From Romney, Addresses Concerns About "9-9-9" and TARP

PENTAGON CITY, Va. — Herman Cain, the non-politician businessman turned presidential contender who has surged to the top in numerous national polls after his surprise and convincing win in Florida’s “Presidency V” straw poll, realizes that as his momentum increases and doubts are erased about whether he is just a “flavor of the month,” he will get more scrutiny.

In part of his interview with HUMAN EVENTS before his book signing at a Northern Virginia Costco, Cain addressed concerns about his support for TARP and fears of some limited government activists about whether his “9-9-9” plan will allow Congress two ways to tax Americans while explicitly drawing a contrast between himself and Mitt Romney

One part of Cain’s appeal is that he has embraced the anti-Wall Street and limited government mantle, which is reflective of the mood of an electorate fed up with the politics of big money and big government, and the politicians that perpetuate both. 

Cain is “Main Street” like Costco is, a place where many small business owners often go to shop. 

It is not hard to imagine Cain as one of the people who flock to places like Costco to buy ingredients and goods to run restaurants or stock the shelves in their businesses because Cain was such a “Main Street” businessman, unlike Romney. 

On Mitt Romney:

Cain told HUMAN EVENTS that one advantage of his 9-9-9” plan was that “it is not a Wall Street plan; it’s a Main Street plan,” and “that’s the difference between Mitt Romney and me.” 

Cain said that “Mitt Romney’s experience…is mostly Wall Street oriented,” and that Romney’s business successes were with “big deals, breakup of companies, putting companies together, leveraged buyouts.” 

“I’m a Main Street executive,” said Cain, explicitly contrasting himself from Romney. “I’ve made the hamburgers, made pizzas, cleaned bathrooms, swept the parking lots, balanced the cash register receipts, taken the money to the bank…and did all the things you do when you run businesses hands on.” 

On giving Congress two streams of federal tax revenue in his “9-9-9” plan: 

In response to those who are uncomfortable giving Congress the power to levy a national sales tax on top of the income tax for fear that once a tax is established, it can then be raised, Cain said there will be checks to prevent Congress from potentially raising the tax rates above the nine percent when his legislation is introduced.  

“I am going to ask for a two-thirds vote of the Senate before they can change the “9-9-9,” Cain said. “Then, [Congress] can’t raise [taxes] without a two-thirds vote.” 

Cain said the second deterrent against Congress raising the nine percent tax rate would be that the plan would be transparent and understood by the American people, unlike the current tax code, which Cain said “taxes us 10,000 ways” and “we don’t even know when they sneak a tax in.” 

“The best deterrent [against Congress raising taxes] is for people to understand it and [then] they will hold [Congress’s] feet to the fire if they try to raise taxes,” Cain said. 

On his support for the idea and not the implementation of TARP:  

Cain has embraced the “Main Street” mantle, but his support associated with a plan that mostly helped Wall Street, TARP, is something that may get more scrutiny if his poll numbers continue to climb. 

“My critics have to dig really deep to find something to beat me up on,” Cain said. “I publicly supported TARP because this country was facing a financial meltdown like we have never faced before.” 

While TARP was being debated, Cain wrote in an opinion piece that, “these actions by the Treasury, the Federal Reserve Bank and the actions by the Federal Depositors Insurance Corporation (FDIC) are all intended to help solve an unprecedented financial crisis. Unlike steps taken prior to and during the Great Depression, these actions have a high probability of success.” 

Cain was wrong in his prediction, as the failure of TARP galvanized much of the Tea Party movement.

According to Cain, the program did not succeed because it was not implemented properly. 

“What I did not support was the implementation of TARP,” Cain said. “This administration picked and chose winners and losers and let certain companies go down, and [it was not implemented] objectively,” Cain said. “If I had known they were going to implement it in that way, I would have never supported TARP.”