Rep. Bachmann Hits Cain On Taxes: "I Want To Adopt The Reagan Tax Plan"

October 13, 2011 10:17 am ET — Matt Finkelstein

With former Godfather's Pizza executive Herman Cain skyrocketing to the top of the GOP presidential field, Rep. Michele Bachmann's (R-MN) presidential campaign has become an afterthought for most Americans. The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll finds Bachmann in sixth place, with just 5 percent of primary voters supporting her. Now, Bachmann is trying to resuscitate her fading candidacy by attacking Cain's signature policy idea.

In an interview on Fox & Friends this morning, Bachmann criticized Cain's "9-9-9" plan, arguing that it opens the door to higher taxes. Instead, Bachmann explained, "I want to reinstitute the Reagan tax plan."

BACHMANN: For my tax plan, I take a page out of one of my great economists that I admire, Ronald Reagan. And under my tax plan I want to adopt the Reagan tax plan. It brought the economic miracle of the 1980s. Why not go with what works? I want to reinstitute the Reagan tax model from the 1980s.


Bachmann didn't get more specific than that, so it's impossible to know exactly what she meant. One possibility is that she would bring back the tax rates that existed under Reagan, most of which were higher than they are today (the top marginal rate only fell below the current 35 percent in 1988, the final year of his presidency). More likely, she would slash rates, as Reagan did before enacting a long series of tax hikes in response to massive deficits.

Despite the hero worship of Reagan on the right, the former president would be ostracized from today's Republican Party for holding insufficiently conservative views. Like President Obama, Reagan acknowledged that many wealthy Americans do not "pay their fair share," calling the system that allowed a millionaire to pay lower rates than a bus driver "crazy." Today's Republicans dismiss comments like Reagan's as "class warfare" and a threat to American freedom.