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Cain on '9-9-9'; Axelrod, Cantor Talk Jobs; Feinstein, Gingrich, McCain Tough on Iran Cain on '9-9-9'; Axelrod, Cantor Talk Jobs; Feinstein, Gingrich, McCai...

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Sunday show blog

Cain on '9-9-9'; Axelrod, Cantor Talk Jobs; Feinstein, Gingrich, McCain Tough on Iran

Cain defends tax plan; Cantor says Obama, Congress should find common ground on jobs; Feinstein says assassination plot "very real."

12:07. Cain Defends '9-9-9'

CORRECTION: The original version of this report misstated K.T. McFarland's name and former position.


Herman Cain continued to defend his “9-9-9” tax proposal even after it has come under attack from fellow conservatives, including Newt Gingrich and Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist.

The Godfather’s Pizza chairman, who now leads the field of Republican presidential primary candidates in some polls, defended his plan on Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press.

Host David Gregory pointed out that according to independent economic analyses, Cain’s plan, which would scrap the current tax code and replace it with a 9 percent flat business tax, a 9 percent sales tax, and a 9 percent national sales tax, would cut the hike the tax burden on the poor and middle class but cut taxes on the wealthy.


“Some people will pay more but most people will pay less,” Cain responded.

The Wall Street Journal has pointed out that Cain’s plan combined with state sales taxes could hike total sales-tax payments to as much as 17 percent.

“People will pay more who buy more new goods, but not those who buy more used goods,” Cain said. “If you do the math on your individual situation, people are going to benefit in several other ways.”

Pressed on how a plan that raises taxes on the middle class could pass Congress when the current outlook for moving even a more conventional tax reform package is dim, Cain said, “How do you get it passed? Throw out the current tax code. American people understand this. American people are embracing it. American people understand it and they are going to demand it--that’s how we get it passed,” he said.


“Based upon the many speeches I’ve given, I’ve talked to voters. That is a huge amount of public support for 9-9-9. Just talk to anybody. Simplicity and public support will get this passed,” he said.

Meanwhile, Cain said he does not support the anti-Wall Street protests now spreading across the country and the world. “If their message is, 'Let’s punish the rich,' I don’t support that message. They should be protesting outside the White House. They are directing their protest at the wrong group.”

Cain confirmed that he stands by an earlier statement: “It is the mission of liberals to destroy the economy.”

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Questioned on foreign policy, where he is coming under scrutiny for his lack of experience, Cain said he would take his cues from thinkers like former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and K.T. McFarland, a Pentagon official under Reagan.

He declined to give an opinion as to whether the recent Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the U.S. should be construed as an act of war.

“After I look at all the information provided by the intelligence community, I can make that decision. But I’m not going to say it was an act of war based on news reports,” he said. “President Cain would first make sure he was making the decision based on all the information. If it’s an act of war, and the evidence suggests that, then I would consult with my advisers” about the appropriate next steps, he said.

Cain said he did not think the war in Iraq was a mistake. “There were a lot of other reasons to go to Iraq … I don’t agree with president’s decision to draw down 40,000 troops there.” He said his criteria for withdrawing troops in Afghanistan would be, “Can we leave Afghanistan in a situation where they can defend themselves?”

Asked if he is ready to be commander in chief, he said, “Consider my philosophy of foreign policy--peace through strength and clarity. I believe we need to clearly define who our friends are, our enemies are, and then let the world know.”

On immigration, he said he would push for construction of a fence, and in some areas troops, on the Mexican border, while promoting the path to citizenship and empowering states to deal with illegal residence.

The social conservative, who has said he would seek to overturn Roe v. Wade, said he wouldn’t seek a constitutional amendment on same-sex marriage but would let states decide the issue individually.

On abortion, he said, “I do not believe in abortion under any circumstance,” including in cases of rape and incest, and said that in cases where the mother’s life was in danger, “the family will have to make that decision.

He said his Supreme Court justice model is conservative Clarence Thomas. “I believe despite all the attacks he gets from the left, he makes his decisions based on the Constitution. He has been targeted unfairly,” he said.

-- Coral Davenport

10:50. McCain: Obama Should've Asked Congress Before Central Africa Deployment

Senate Armed Services ranking member John McCain (R-Ariz.) said on Sunday that President Obama should have consulted with Congress before deploying 100 U.S. military personnel to Central Africa to kill or capture Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union, he called the resistance army a “horrible group” guilty of “unspeakable behavior,” and characterized the effort as humanitarian. But he said the administration was “the least communicative with Congress of any administration that I’ve ever seen.”

McCain, who has served under four presidents, added that he feared the deployment to Africa could become “a commitment that we can’t get out of.”

In the wake of the foiled assassination attempt against the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., the senator called Iran a “rogue nation” and said Obama’s policy of engagement with the country “has clearly failed.”

He said he recommended increased sanctions against Iran, adding that “covert activities of some kind should be considered.”

-- David Kent

10:30. Axelrod: White House Splitting Up Jobs Bill

Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod said on Sunday that after the defeat in the Senate last week of President Obama’s jobs bill, White House staff are now taking it apart and working on how to bring back pieces of it to Congress.

“They will be done sequentially, and the sequence is being assembled right now,” he said on ABC News' This Week.

As the Occupy Wall Street movement spread to London and Rome, Axelrod declined to say whether the movement could benefit Obama’s campaign. But he took a shot at Republicans’ plan to roll back Wall Street reform. “I don’t think any American is impressed when [Massachusetts Gov. Mitt] Romney and others say that in their first days in office they would roll back Wall Street reform,” he said.

He also took shots at Romney’s shifting positions on the issues, a theme that could become more prominent as Romney emerges as the inevitable Republican nominee for president.

“There’s this question about what his core principles are,” Axelrod said. “He’s been running for office for 20 years, and time and again he shifts--there’s no priniciple too large for him to throw over in pursuit of office.”

-- Coral Davenport

10:06. Cantor: Obama, Congress Should Rework Jobs Bill--Together

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said on Sunday that Republicans want to work with President Obama on moving a bill to create jobs and stimulate the economy, but he criticized all the major cornerstones of the jobs bill Obama has sent to Congress.

“The people of this country want to see us set aside those differences,” he said, speaking on Fox News Sunday. “We want the president to work with us. We want him to stop the campaigning--let’s go find the things in our plan that match up with his.”

After the Senate last week rejected Obama’s plan, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle said they hoped they could break out some individual pieces of the plan and move them as separate bills.

But Cantor criticized the key components of the bill: spending $140 billion on infrastructure and spending $35 billion on aid to states to prevent layoffs of teachers, firefighters, and police officers.

“The president suggests $100 billion in new spending on roads and bridges--we believe there is a need for infrastructure spending, but the president has gone across the country and found bridges and roads that he wants to spend on. We say, let’s reform the system and go about redoing the permitting process.”

Of the plan to send states money to pay for teachers and fireighters, Cantor said, “Here we go again, Washington. The way we get ahead in the in the economy is helping small business.”

He added, “The stimulus money, much of it went to states, and you know what happened there--we’ve seen the other way doesn’t work.”

The House Republican jobs plan would roll back government regulations and cut top corporate tax breaks.

Moody’s economist Mark Zandi estimates that Obama's plan would add 2 million jobs and bring unemployment down to 8 percent in 2012. He has said the House Republicans plan is generally good for the economy in the long term, but won’t do much for job growth in the next year.

Cantor criticized Zandi, saying he had incorrectly predicted that Obama’s stimulus plan would lower employment.

-- Coral Davenport

9:40. Feinstein: U.S. Should Ramp Up Sanctions Against Iran

Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said on Sunday that the U.S. should ramp up sanctions against Iran, including blacklisting Iran’s central bank, in the wake of revelations that the Iran’s elite Quds Force planned to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the U.S.

Feinstein said reports of the plan are solid and accurate. “I was first briefed about it in September; it sounded doubtful--it’s very real.... The evidence is very strong … the case is dead-bang,” she said, speaking on Fox News Sunday.

She added that she believes the force could well be plotting similar attacks in other countries. “They have done these kinds of things before,” she said.

She said sanctioning Iran’s central bank and blacklisting entities that deal with it could be an effective method of retaliation and that the U.S. should have taken similar measures earlier. “That would affect oil, and maybe that’s why they don’t do it.”

But she said she was wary of the idea of direct retaliation against the Quds Force itself. “It’s difficult. It’s a large operation, it’s an elite branch. It probably would escalate into a war and the question is, do we want to go to war with Iran? And I think the answer is no.”

-- Coral Davenport

9:29. Gingrich: Obama Lacks ‘Grand Strategy’ for Dictatorships

Presidential candidate and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich criticized the Obama administration on Sunday for lacking a “grand strategy” for dealing with dictatorships that potentially threaten the United States.

“We will never, ever be safe if the North Korean and Iranian dictatorships survive,” Gingrich said in his appearance on CNN’s State of the Union.

Rather than having a clear long-term plan for potential terror threats, he said, “we sort of respond to the press coverage of the minute,” adding that President Obama should focus first on controlling the U.S. border with Mexico before deploying troops overseas.

On jobs, Gingrich said he would urge Congress to include a mandatory training program in any jobs bill it passed, because “we have a workforce that is no longer trained for modern jobs.”

Gingrich also hailed fellow candidate and former pizza executive Herman Cain  as an “enthusiastic” and “competent” person, but said Cain’s “9-9-9” tax program will be tough to sell to voters who currently pay little or no sales tax.

-- David Kent

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