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The field starts to narrow

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By John Barnhart

    We should soon see the field of candidates for the Republican nomination begin to narrow. Both Chris Christie and Sarah Palin have announced that they won’t seek the nomination and it’s too late for anybody else to toss his hat in the ring and still get on the ballot in all states.

    It looks like Michelle Bachman’s campaign will probably be one of the first to go belly up. Bachman was in the lead in July but her campaign has since foundered in polls. Although she won the Ames, Iowa, straw poll in August, she doesn’t show up in the top three in recent polls taken in that state. The most recent Rasmussen Poll shows Herman Cain in the lead, there, with Mitt Romney coming in second and Ron Paul third.
    Bachman’s campaign began showing cracks even before Ames when she lost a senior campaign staffer. From what I read at the time, he expressed frustration over the futility of trying to keep Bachman’s foot out of her mouth. Bachman is exceptionally gaffe prone. In recent weeks she’s seen more staffers bail out and I’ve read that she’s having trouble raising money.
    Then, she took on Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan implying that, if you turn the numbers upside down, you get 666 — the mark of the beast in Revelation. Maybe this was just a little bit of hyperbole meant to emphasize her belief that it’s a really terrible idea. If it’s not, then it’s a sure sign she’s absolutely desperate.
    I will be surprised if her campaign stays afloat long enough to reach the Iowa caucuses.
    By the way, I’m not a fan of the 9-9-9 plan. It’s the last 9, a 9 percent national sales tax, that I intensely dislike. This will be 9 percent in addition to the sales taxes already levied by states. The problem with our economy right now is not a shortage of money for investment. A lot of large corporations are sitting on piles of cash that they aren’t spending. The problem is that consumers aren’t spending because they either don’t have any money or are afraid to spend because they don’t know if they will still have a job tomorrow. Businesses are not going to invest in expansion if the customers aren’t there. I don’t understand why Cain thinks that making everything cost 9 percent more will remedy this problem. I wonder if he plans to exempt pizzas from the national sales tax.    
    Furthermore, the 9-9-9 plan creates a new federal tax. Giving Congress a new source of tax revenue is like giving an alcoholic a $50 bill and dropping him off in front of a liquor store. And, you can bet that the tax rates won’t stay at 9-9-9. It won’t take long for Congress to turn it into 14-24-15, or something like that. Elected officials learned long ago that most of us are stupid enough to let them get away with buying our votes with our own money. This will continue until we all finally wise up and demand that they stop spending. Replacing the existing tax system with something else, be it 9-9-9, a flat tax or the “fair tax,” is just a smoke-and-mirrors solution that will accomplish nothing.
    Right now, Herman Cain is leading the pack but it remains to be seen if he will hold on to that lead. He may be  just the latest flavor of the month, although a recent Rasmussen Poll shows him edging out Obama in a Cain/Obama matchup.
    There is no such thing as a perfect candidate and, if the Republicans nominate Cain, I’ll vote for him. I don’t agree with him on everything, but I would much rather see Cain in the White House than have Barack Obama back for another four years.
    I can’t say the same for Mitt Romney. Romney is an unprincipled liar and there is no telling what he would actually do if elected.