This is the kind of political news day, notwithstanding Rick Perry’s flat tax proposal and some other odds and end, that seemed a little light on substance, and dissolves like cotton candy.
The president is in California, joking on Leno, the Gingrich family Tiffany affair was in the news again, there were expensive bottles of wine, Elizabeth Warren’s Republican past and M.C. Hammer. And the odd political ad with Herman Cain’s Chief of Staff puffing down a cigarette continues to hold our attention.
The ad doesn’t say anything about the 999 plan or Cain’s policies, but it speaks volumes about the campaign’s unique approach to politics.
Not even John Boehner smokes so unabashedly in front of cameras.
And it begs the question why Cain is still doing so well in the polls, atop a new CBS poll tonight even as a new ABC News/ Washington Post poll shows 56 percent Americans have an unfavorable view of the 999 plan.
Very conservative Americans, according to the ABC News / Washington Post poll prefer a flat tax, not unlike what Rick Perry unloaded today in South Carolina.
The argument for a flat tax - “The plan starts with giving Americans a choice between a new, flat tax rate of 20 percent or their current income tax rate,” Perry wrote in the Wall Street Journal. “The new flat tax preserves mortgage interest, charitable and state and local tax exemptions for families earning less than $500,000 annually, and it increases the standard deduction to $12,500 for individuals and dependents”
He held up a postcard in South Carolina to demonstrate that his plan would make everything simpler. He said the lower taxes would “ jolt our economy out of the doldrums.”
The argument against - “Flat tax proposals reduce the contributions of the most fortunate households, shifting the burden onto the middle class,” wrote Obama campaign policy director James Kvaal “Under a flat tax, all Americans would pay the same tax rate, abandoning the progressive principle that the most fortunate Americans can afford to contribute more.” Read more here.
More Re-Birther – But for the theoretical popularity of his flat tax plan, Perry was dogged again today by the questions he won’t answer about President Obama’s birth certificate. He says repeatedly the issue is a distraction. But he won’t say if he believes the birth certificate released by the White House is real, according to Arlette Saenz.
“Here’s what we’re interested in: getting Americans back working. And if folks who have money are gonna be creating those jobs, then I don’t have a problem in the world with that,” Perry said. “It doesn’t make any difference to me who creates those jobs.
Obama on the Tonight Show – But our lead tonight is the President’s trip to Jay Leno’s couch, where he compares the Republican primary contest to Survivor.
ABC’s Mary Bruce reports that the President is “going to wait until everybody’s voted off the island” before he takes a really keen interest in the race.
“Once they narrow it down to one of two, I’ll start paying attention,” the president said of his Republican rivals in an interview with Jay Leno, set to air Tuesday on NBC’s “Tonight Show.”
We believe that about as much as we believe the Secret Service would let the White House get egged if Michelle Obama didn’t hand out Halloween candy. That was his other joke.
And now you can watch Nightline in that time slot instead.
Help for Vets - He also added to the “We Can’t Wait” tour today, announcing new executive action to help veterans get work by encouraging Community Health Centers to hire them, according to Mary Bruce.
3 Percent Withholding – And John Boehner jumped on the “We Can’t Wait” bandwagon too. But he said the Senate Democrats are the ones holding things up. House Republicans have rejiggered a proposal to end a 3 percent withholding on payments to some government contractors. But Democrats don’t like the way they offset the spending. Read more from John Parkinson.
What’s on tap tomorrow?
– We’ll all be paying a lot more attention to President Obama’s Green Car program. More on that from the Blotter.
– The President will talk about student loans.
– The super committee will meet.
– There’s an RNC gala in D.C.
We’re flush with afternoon kickers today:
Hammer Pants - First, we’ll go back to the world of political ads and put on our Hammer pants for the San Francisco web video touting Mayor Ed Lee’s election campaign with M.C. Hammer, that bearded guy from the Giants, and a bunch of Internet company glitterati. More here.
Redhot Redhead Twitter War – And if that’s not interesting to you, take a look at Donald Trump’s Twitter war with Lawrence O’Donnell. More here.
Callista at Tiffany – And if even that is not interesting, there’s the Washington Post’s sighting of Callista Gingrich at Tiffany’s. More here.
Expensive Wine: Or the $15,000 bottle of Chateau Lafite Rothschild Leon Panetta’s may someday get to drink for helming the CIA when Osama bin Laden was killed.