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Mr. Cain, we feel privileged to have your time tonight, sir. Thank you for joining us.
HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Happy to do it.
MADDOW: We`re going to have our first question for you tonight from the Reverend Al Sharpton. Al?
AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Mr. Cain, first of all, I think you did very well tonight in laying out some of the substance of what you had to say. But what struck me is both Governor Perry and you seemed to have a
strong emphasis, whether it was on Social Security or other issues, on states being empowered, states rights.
And the reason that it struck me is wouldn`t you say -- you`re from Georgia -- that women`s rights and voter rights and civil rights was largely built by those that wanted to have a strong national government
protect them against states having too much power, that would in fact keep us in a position where some one like you or I couldn`t even run for president?
CAIN: Reverend Sharpton, those aren`t the kind of rights that I want to touch. I am a product of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and --
CAIN: The Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I don`t want to touch those rights. I`m not talking about those kinds of rights.
Secondly, Governor Perry talked about Social Security. I offered a solution, the Chilean solution. If you had noticed tonight, on most of my questions, I tried to put a solution on the table. And the solution that I
put on the table, relative to Social Security, was quite simply the Chilean model, where we create a personal retirement account option for younger workers.
I didn`t say privatization, because that`s how it was demagogued before. But things such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, I don`t support touching those. I`m talking about states rights as it relates to dealing with some of the issues as it relates to the people within the state and some of these dysfunctional programs being run out of Washington, D.C..
EUGENE ROBINSON, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Mr. Cain, this is Gene Robinson in New York. I covered South America for the "Washington Post." I covered Chile. The Chilean model is privatization of the pension system. What`s the --
CAIN: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.
ROBINSON: What`s the difference between privatization and privatization?
CAIN: Wait, sir. With all due respect, it is not. It is personalization. Workers in Chile, they have an account that they retire with, with their name on it. That`s not privatization. The word privatization is used to try and kill the idea before it takes off. With all due respect, sir, it`s personal retirement accounts. And that`s what I`m proposing.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Herman Cain, this is Lawrence O`Donnell. Now you`re just drawing a semantic distinction. You don`t want to use the word privatization for what we all call privatization. You want to call it personalization. Just because the government sends this document out to you with your name on it, I get that.
But it is privatization. Gene`s right about that.
Let me move on to a larger focus of the evening. And that is the frame of Ronald Reagan. You were debating in Ronald Reagan`s house, as it were. And you all ignored that Ronald Reagan as president raised taxes 11 times, that Ronald Reagan as governor created the single largest state income tax in history in 1967.
You selected pieces of Ronald Reagan thematically as a group that you like. But you ignore specifically how he governed, which was often in a bipartisan way, in agreements with Democrats, including agreements to raise taxes. Would you advocate governing in that way, the way Ronald Reagan did?
CAIN: Sir, with all due respect, I want to talk about how we get this sorry economy moving. It starts with recognizing the business sector. I am not here to defend everything that Ronald Reagan did right, and
everything that Ronald Reagan may not have done right.
I want to get 14 million people back to work, which is why I have put a bold solution on the table, OK? 999 Plan is what I have put on the table. This is what we need to focus on. This is what the American people
are looking for, solutions, not going back and trying to draw parallels with what was done right or done wrong in the past.
Because we have decades of that that we can go back and dig up stuff on Republican presidents and Democrat presidents. The American people are ready for solutions. And that`s what I have been putting on the table on all of these issues.
ED SCHULTZ, MSNBC ANCHOR: Mr. Cain, Ed Schultz here tonight. You -- you said that you would replace the tax code with what you call the 999 Plan. You would reduce corporate profits down to nine percent, personal income down to nine percent, and a national retail sales.
If you do the numbers on this, doesn`t this favor the rich? And doesn`t it hit lower income people really hard? What`s your math on this 999 Program?
CAIN: It does not favor the rich. It favors everybody. People who work, everybody`s paying the total of 15.3 percent payroll tax, correct? Now, that 15.3 percent, even if they aren`t paying any income tax, now goes
to nine percent -- 15.3, nine.
Secondly, this levels the playing field. It does not help the rich more than it helps the poor. It levels -- it basically collects the same amount of revenue. By replacing the payroll tax, it eliminates capital
gains tax. Give me a moment.
It replaces the capital gains tax, and it also replaces the death tax. This is what this economy needs in order to get going. The poor are not disadvantaged. They are empowered because of this.
Now, there`s one other aspect of this that I didn`t get a chance to talk about, which is to help the poor, to help these impoverished, economically depressed cities like a Detroit. You can take that 999 Plan and use it to create empowerment zones.
When you look at the people who are jobless, especially among black Americans, they live in areas that need some additional help. Without the government picking winners and losers, that plan could be -- could be -- we haven`t defined all the parameters yet -- an 888 Plan. It`s simple and it`s easy to understand.
SCHULTZ: Well, that would be a government program that you just created for the city of Detroit, but it would also reduce the wealthiest American`s tax obligation from 33 percent down to nine percent. I think
you got that pretty well covered. But that`s just my opinion.
CAIN: Well, that`s your opinion. But if you look -- but if you look at what it`s going to do to help everybody, you might come to a different opinion.
MADDOW: Mr. Herman Cain, we`re grateful for your time tonight, sir. Thank you for joining us. We look forward to seeing you here again on MSNBC soon.
CAIN: Thank you.
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