Far from being the folksy outsider candidate, Republican businessman and newly minted “frontrunner” Herman Cain has held a longstanding relationship with an organization funded by the American left’s favorite Republican billionaires: the Koch brothers. So it shouldn’t be surprising that, when confronted about his ties to the activist billionaires who once employed him, he only partially owned up to it.
“I know the Koch brothers,” he told CNN host John King yesterday. “The Koch brothers helped to start an organization called Americans for Prosperity, and I did some speaking when they were starting that organization. I’m very proud of the relationship I have with the Koch brothers. I have also attended some of their seminars and have found them very informative. So, I don’t have a close relationship, but I know them and I respect them, and they know me and they respect me.”
More than just knowing the brothers and attending a few Americans for Prosperity (AFP) seminars, Cain actually served as a spokesman for the Koch political interest group from 2005-2006, going on tour with the “Prosperity Expansion Project,” according to The Associated Press.
As such, AFP personnel are part-and-parcel with his campaign, from his campaign manager to his former spokesperson. He even credits a former AFP colleague with inspiring his “9-9-9” tax plan.
Apart from being Republican gadflies, the Koch brothers have been under a lot of scrutiny lately after an investigative report for Bloomberg accused them of breaching U.S. laws to conduct shady deal with Iran — among dozens of other criminal acts around the world. They’re also noted for having donated over $100 million to Republican causes and helping fund the rise of the tea parties.
In a stroke of irony, all the Republicans now filing in to support Cain are also adamant that their taxes not be raised. Cain’s “9-9-9” plan, however, would raise all their taxes and lower payments for the wealthiest Americans, according to economics experts.
The first tax it would leverage, a 9 percent income tax on all Americans, would represent a 26 percent tax cut for the wealthiest citizens, who currently pay 35 percent. People in the poor and middle classes only a tiny percentage in income taxes, but they mostly contribute through sales, property, Social Security and Medicare taxes, among others, which typically eats up a larger percentage of their real incomes than the top earners.
The view that the wealthiest Americans should not be asked to sacrifice for their country is not shared by the vast majority of voters. Polling earlier this month found that eight in 10 Americans, including a majority of Republicans, support raising tax rates on incomes over $250,000 a year. President Barack Obama has vowed to make tax fairness a cornerstone of his reelection efforts.
The video below was broadcast by CNN on Monday, Oct. 17, 2011, as snipped by Think Progress.
Photo: Flickr user Gage Skidmore.
Correction: A prior version of this article said the poor and middle classes do not pay income tax.