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Cain’s Plan Not as Simple as 9-9-9?

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images(DETROIT) -- What’s the first thing that comes to mind at the mention of Herman Cain? For 42 percent of Americans, it’s “9-9-9,” according to a Pew Research Center poll.

Since the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO introduced his catchy economic plan, his popularity has skyrocketed from a second-tier candidate polling in fourth place to a GOP presidential front-runner challenging Mitt Romney for the No. 1 spot.

But the plan that Cain praises for being “simple” and “fair” is shaping up to be a bit more complicated and a bit less egalitarian.

Speaking to a crowd of supporters in Detroit on Friday, Cain added another layer, which he calls “Opportunity Zones,” to his original plan for a 9 percent personal income tax, 9 percent corporate income tax and 9 percent national sales tax.

Under the Opportunity Zone aspect of his plan, which Cain said has “been in the analysis all along,” businesses in “economically depressed” cities such as Detroit would qualify for “special deductions,” although the GOP candidate did not specify the kinds or size of those deductions.

Cain said his plan allows all businesses, not just those within the zones, to deduct net exports and capital investments.

Cain also added a provision to protect the low-income workers that, under the current tax code, pay no federal income tax. Cain’s provision allows families or individuals whose incomes put them at or below the poverty level, which for 2011 is $10,890 for a single person or $22,350 for a family of four, to pay zero income tax.

“If you are at or below the poverty level,” Cain said, “your plan isn’t 9-9-9, it’s 9-zero-9.”

Dan Mitchell, a senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute, said Thursday that Cain would get “hammered” politically if he did not add the low-income family exemption, especially with his GOP rival Gov. Rick Perry set to introduce a flat tax, which excludes those at the bottom end of the income scale from the federal income tax rolls.

“The poor don’t pay tax now and the poor don’t pay tax under flat tax,” Mitchell said. “If the poor start paying tax under 9-9-9, it will be a big problem politically.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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