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Cain’s 9-9-9 Plan Gets Grilled at Nevada GOP Debate

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(LAS VEGAS) -- GOP frontrunner Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan took a beating at Tuesday night’s debate in Las Vegas.  His fellow contenders took his proposal to the mat, using the first 20 minutes of the debate to zero in on the businessman’s so called “economic vision for growth and renewal”.

Since climbing to the top of the polls, Cain’s plan has come under attack across the board, from former Ronald Reagan economic advisors to Grover Norquist, president of the conservative Americans for Tax Reform.  But on Tuesday night, it was the job of those vying for the Republican nomination to try and expose the plan that has helped catapult Cain forward.

Following the debate, Cain told reporters, “The higher up you are in the polls, the more they’re gonna target you and come after you.”

“I believe that the attacks I got tonight shows that they still don’t have a plan so their only strategy is to attack mine.  All of the attacks that were made were erroneous.  I’m not worried about it,” he said.

Michele Bachmann, a former tax lawyer, derided Cain’s plan for being a tax plan and not a jobs plan.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum said, “Herman’s well-meaning, and I love his boldness, and it’s great.  But the fact of the matter is, I mean, reports are now out that 84 percent of Americans would pay more taxes under his plan.  That’s the analysis.”

A recent study from the Tax Policy Center, a Washington think tank, said that Cain’s 9-9-9 plan would raise taxes on 84 percent of American households -- something Herman Cain denied on his bus tour across Tennessee.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry also took a soft approach saying, “Herman, I love you, brother, but let me tell you something, you don’t need to have a big analysis to figure this thing out.  Go to New Hampshire, where they don’t have a sales tax, and you’re fixing to give them one."

“... [R]ight here in Nevada you’ve got 8-plus percent.  You want nine cents on top of that, and nine cents on a new home -- or 9 percent on a new home, 9 percent on your Social Security, 9 percent more?  I don’t think so, Herman.  It’s not going to fly,” Perry added.

Cain has addressed this claim on the trail saying that his tax is a replacement tax not an added tax, saying his fellow candidates were mixing apples and oranges, something he reiterated at the debate over and over again.

“This is an example of mixing apples and oranges.  The state tax is an apple.  We are replacing the current tax code with oranges.  So it’s not correct to mix apples and oranges,” said Cain.  “What the 9 percent does is that we take out those five invisible taxes and replace it with one visible 9 percent.”

When Mitt Romney, went after the plan, Cain responded “Whether you throw out the existing code and you put in our plan, you’re still going to pay that.  That’s apples and oranges.”

Romney responded, “Fine.  And I’m going to be getting a bushel basket that has apples and oranges in it because I’ve got to pay both taxes and the people in Nevada don’t want to pay both taxes.”

Cain stood his ground under the intense scrutiny of his plan: “Once again, unfortunately, none of my distinguished colleagues who have attacked me up here tonight understand the plan.  They’re wrong about it being a value-added tax.  We simply remove the hidden taxes that are in goods and services with our plan and replace it with a single rate 9 percent.  I invite every family to do your own calculations with that arithmetic.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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