Cain insists that his plan is revenue-neutral, adding that a study conducted by an independent group backs up his assertion. But Bloomberg concluded his plan would bring in $2 trillion, which is $200 billion less than the IRS collected in fiscal 2010; the liberal Center for American Progress pegs the figure at $1.3 trillion; and conservatives at the Washington Times and National Review Online estimate it would bring in $1.7 trillion. And the plan has other problems, which he flatly denies, including that it's regressive to the point of being, as former Reagan aide Bruce Bartlett wrote recently, "a distributional monstrosity."
No matter how self-assured he sounds when he declares his critics "incorrect," Cain will eventually have to bend to the laws of political gravity. He cannot go on forever declaring that less is more just because he said so. The more Cain is taken seriously, the more scrutiny he will get, hastening his induction into the ranks of the 2012 has-beens. Then maybe Newt will get his turn.
And what of Romney? He is clearly the class of the field, which along with his plodding serenity increasingly gives him an air of inevitability. But consider a recent report from Gallup which noted that with one exception—John McCain four years ago—every eventual GOP nominee since Richard Nixon in 1959 has enjoyed a commanding lead with at least 41 percent support of his party by this point on the calendar. Romney, by contrast, had 20 percent in the most recent Gallup poll, which is down from mid-September, when he was busy vanquishing Perry. This may end with Republicans anointing Romney, but only after the GOP is dragged kicking and screaming to the altar.