Issues & Insights
Photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Marianique Santos

Need A Compelling Post-COVID, Second-Term Vision? Pull Out 9-9-9-0

“You wanna know how to get Capone? They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue.” – Jim Malone, “The Untouchables”

And then there were two.

It’s Sleepy Joe vs. The Donald for the presidency – and the future of the entire Free World.

Not much is at stake. Just countering a worldwide pandemic. Reviving thousands of shuttered businesses and putting millions back to work. Dealing with trillions in deficits, debt and unfunded liabilities, including Medicare’s looming insolvency by 2026.

And of course, facing off against an implacable competitor responsible for viral, economic and cyber-contagion – and committed, per the Pentagon, to an “all-of-nation long-term strategy” aimed at “displacement of the United States to achieve global preeminence in the future?”

We know all about the radical program being forced on Sleepy Joe by the Democrats’ left wing. But the president’s own second-term vision is, unfortunately, being compromised by his present posture.

With the media sensationalizing daily death tolls – there’s not been such a focus on “body counts” since Vietnam – President Donald Trump has not just kowtowed to the “experts” to curtail freedom and obliterated his unprecedented economic accomplishments.

He’s responded to manufactured misery by joining with Democrats to conjure up imaginary trillions in assistance, loans and liquidity, with Treasury and Senate Republicans back at the enchanted inkwell hoping to print another $250 billion before his signature on the “stimulus” package was dry.

And emphasizing stimulus has already shifted the election to opposition territory, empowering Democrats to make mob-style demands.

Need temporary support for extended sick and family medical leave? “The Godmother” attempts to make an offer Republicans can’t refuse: universal, permanent sick and family leave entitlements.

Additional unemployment insurance and aid for business? Dona Pelosi tries to extort a Hyde Amendment workaround, far-out diversity requirements, a Postal Service bailout, same-day voter registration, union organizing sops, outrageous environmental mandates on airlines, stock buyback restrictions and other lending conditions, and a federal $15 minimum wage.

More “payroll protection” for small businesses? The Democratic boss wants her own “protection money:” payoffs for “small community-based lenders,” plus hikes in and suspension of work requirements for food stamps.

Yet what’s the concept both Trump and the Democrats envision for the next round of stimulus? A Yet Bigger Government $2-trillion “infrastructure” initiative that will further tilt the proverbial playing field to the Democrats.

What better way to launch the Green New Deal than to “invest” in wind, solar and other renewable boondoggles? Won’t participating construction workers need a higher minimum wage, bigger and better health care, mandated family leave, and gratis training? But if we’re setting workers up, how can we leave students behind? Hence loan relief and free community college.

Basta! It’s time to go Jim Malone on La Pelosi Nostra. Since Democrats will continue to hijack stimulus by pulling out their neo-socialist knives, it’s time for Republicans to pull out the howitzer: even more aggressive, market-oriented reforms to both jump start and sustain growth, rather than more dependency, post-Corona.

Like what? Let’s start with a “blast from the past:” the 9-9-9 tax reform plan forwarded by then-presidential candidate Herman Cain in 2011 – with a slight booster.

Back then, this commentator dashed concerns about regressiveness and opined that the concept of a simple, flat, 9% personal income tax, 9% sales tax and 9% corporate tax “should really be seen as a miracle – an entire domestic program in a popular, populist slogan, one that ranges beyond tax policy to open the door for the Right’s dream objectives from capital and job formation to entitlement reform to healthcare rationalization (and I didn’t even get into its benefits for family formation).”

More than ever, American businesses and workers needs 9-9-9’s main benefit: creating a magnet for global investment – and jobs.

But 9-9-9 needs a slight tweak – to 9-9-9-0. The “zero” being a 10-year, complete corporate tax holiday for repatriating manufacturing and sourcing to untether America from China’s lying, murderous despots. (More potent than Trump adviser Larry Kudlow’s proposal to expense such investments.)

Naturally, 9-9-9-0 will never get past Madame Speaker and her henchpersons. That’s why it must anchor an ambitious “reboot” vision for a second Trump term and GOP Congress, just as the Kemp-Roth 30% tax cut galvanized 1980’s Reagan and Republican congressional campaigns.

Amid the current economic carnage, 9-9-9-0 would offer a blunt but compelling instrument to seize the initiative back from the Democrats – Chicago-style – and make America’s post-COVID future great again.

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Bob Maistros

Bob Maistros, a messaging and communications strategist and crisis specialist, is of counsel with Strategic Action Public Affairs, and was chief writer for the Reagan-Bush ’84 campaign, three U.S. Senators, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached at

1 comment

  • This is almost my exact idea but I would add a couple of things.

    First the tax holiday only applies to the profits earned at the individual factory or plant, and not the entire corporation as a whole.

    Second, only American citizens will be allowed to work in these new facilities.

    Third, incentivize the establishment of trade and technical skills to teach welding, carpentry, plumbing, electrical, electronics, etc. etc. If we’re going to forgive student debt (we shouldn’t), then precondition it on current students switching majors from liberal arts and social sciences to STEM and the aforementioned.

    Fourth, temporarily* suspend the entire DC bureaucracy to make the establishment of new businesses easy and rapid. *Temporarily is ideally forever.

    My two cents.

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