Herman Cain, the pizza baron who has risen to the top of the Republican Party's half-hour comedy hour of a preliminary presidential campaign, is getting a lot of truck from pundits for his catchy sounding "9-9-9" tax plan. It's basically a flat 9 percent levy on corporate income, personal income, and sales. That sounds familiar, say SimCity fans.

That's because 9 percent is the default levy for commercial, industrial and and residential taxes in 2004's SimCity 4.

When SimCity's core said "Hey, that sounds familiar," the Huffington Post's Amanda Terkel went digging for answers. The provenance of Cain's proposal is unknown; it's said to come from Rich Lowrie, an economic advisor to Cain. He didn't comment, and his receptionist said he's not much of a gamer.

Undaunted, the HuffPo went to Maxis, the creator of SimCity, to get a comment. Painstakingly nonpartisan, the studio said that while neither they (nor parent Electronic Arts) make any endorsements, "it's interesting to see GOP candidate Herman Cain propose a simplified tax system like one we designed for the video game SimCity 4."

Republican economic advisors have discredited Cain's plan as nice-sounding campaign boilerplate that's actually a formula for raising taxes on the poor, cutting them for the rich, and doing zilch for economic growth. Wrote the Times, "When the freshest and most-talked-about idea is Herman Cain's ridiculous '9-9-9' tax plan, it is clear that the economy they were debating is not the one Americans are forced to live in."


No, it rather sounds like a simulation where the consequences last only until the computer is powered down.

(Image of Herman Cain | David Goldman/AP)

Herman Cain 999 Plan: Did It Come From SimCity? [Huffington Post, h/t Adrian C.]