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 So Stephen Moore is suggesting that Cain should (will?) drop the 9% sales tax in his plan and replace it with a 9% payroll tax. So we are having a discussion about enormous changes to our tax system during an era of slow growth and enormous budgets. The discussion seems to have a acquired an utterly demented obsession with whether this or that tax policy fits in with a 9 theme. The only thing that is missing is for Cain to show up at the Republican debate with nines all over his clothes like some kind of numerology-crazed associate of the Riddler.

In all seriousness, Cain is set up for a fall. As soon as it becomes clear that he has proposed two consumption taxes that combined hit consumers with an 18% consumption tax and that his 9% flat tax would increase the income tax liabilities of middle-class families with children and mortgages while decreasing home values (immediately getting rid of the mortgage interest deduction rather than phasing it out), it is going to be game over. Six months from now, 9-9-9 is going to be remembered (to the extent that it is remembered) as an episode of political surrealism.

I’m not sure who takes Cain’s spot as the not-Romney. Lots of people have already had turns. One of them was even Donald Trump (speaking of surrealism.) Bachmann and Perry have already been the non-Romney. This is actually Cain’s second turn as the non-Romney. His first turn came between the first and second Republican debates. Bachmann and (more likely) Perry could get a second shot. I think Santorum is at least as likely to emerge.

I’m away from home tomorrow.  I’ll share my debate thoughts (such as they are) on Thursday.

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