Democrats are criticizing Republican Matthew A. Doheny for saying that he “likes” a Republican presidential candidate’s “9-9-9” tax plan, but Mr. Doheny has since clarified his remarks, saying he hasn’t punched his ticket on the Herman Cain train just by dropping the L-bomb.
“That’s far from endorsing a particular plan,” said Mr. Doheny, a candidate for Congress in 2012 who hasn’t endorsed a Republican for president. “I’ve been on record saying we need to have a simpler, flatter and fairer system.”
At issue is Mr. Cain’s tax plan, which would replace the current federal tax code with 9 percent corporate, income and sales taxes. An analysis by the Tax Policy Institute concluded that the primary candidate’s “9-9-9” plan would raise taxes on 84 percent of Americans while cutting taxes for the wealthy (after encountering criticism, Mr. Cain has said that the plan would include provisions protecting the poor from tax hikes). In an interview with the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, Mr. Doheny said he liked Mr. Cain’s plan.
“For Matt Doheny, making $7 million per year isn’t enough,” said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Joshua B. Schwerin in an email lambasting Mr. Doheny. “Now he wants to cut taxes for himself and his company, while increasing taxes on 84 percent of Americans.”
Not so, Mr. Doheny said.
“I like lots of tax plans,” Mr. Doheny said. “I’m not endorsing it, though.”
Mr. Doheny said he favors eliminating the estate tax and lowering corporate tax rates — both steps that the Cain plan would take — but he’s not so sure about a national sales tax without strong restrictions against raising it.
“The challenge with the national sales tax is, when you give Congress the ability to tax people in different ways, it never seems to go down,” Mr. Doheny said.
Mr. Doheny said he will continue to review candidates’ plans. That includes Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s plan, unveiled Tuesday, which promises 20 percent flat income tax rates on everybody, regardless of income. America currently has a progressive tax rate, which taxes wealthier individuals at a higher rate than the poor. A flat tax takes wages at the same rate, no matter what the income.
Even though Mr. Doheny hasn’t cast his lot with a particular tax plan, he said he does believe that Mr. Cain’s and Mr. Perry’s plans that shift away from those progressive tax rates are the ideal for an economy that will grow.
“It’s a bold step forward,” Mr. Doheny said. “We’re talking about ideas that lead to a fairer, flatter system. . . . Where we shake down in all the details, we have time.”
Mr. Doheny’s likely Democratic opponent in November 2012, Rep. William L. Owens of Plattsburgh, does not support Mr. Cain’s plan, a spokesman said.
Mr. Owens wants to allow the near-decades old Bush tax cuts to expire for those who make more than $500,000 a year. Mr. Doheny said that raising taxes would harm America’s ability to create jobs.
Mr. Owens has also come out in favor of simplifying the tax code by eliminating some deductions and lowering the overall tax rate.