WASHINGTON -- In Herman Cain's America, the tax code would be very, very simple: The corporate income tax rate would be 9 percent, the personal income tax rate would be 9 percent and the national sales tax rate would be 9 percent.
But there's already a 999 plan out there, in a land called SimCity.
Long before Cain was running for president and getting attention for his 999 plan, the residents of SimCity 4 -- which was released in 2003 -- were living under a system where the default tax rate was 9 percent for commercial taxes, 9 percent for industrial taxes and 9 percent for residential taxes. (That is, of course, if you didn't use the cheat codes to get unlimited money and avoid taxes altogether.)
A screenshot from the game's default settings:
There has been all sorts of speculation about where Cain came up with the idea for his catchy plan -- Unnamed economic advisers? A clever marketing promotion pulled from the pizza industry? -- but beyond a few hardcore gamers in the comments sections of blogs, few have looked to SimCity, the land where there's a "God mode."
Kip Katsarelis, a senior producer for Maxis, the company that created the SimCity series, was excited that politicians may be looking to video games for ideas.
"We encourage politicians to continue to look to innovative games like SimCity for inspiration for social and economic change," said Katsarelis. "While we at Maxis and Electronic Arts do not endorse any political candidates or their platforms, it's interesting to see GOP candidate Herman Cain propose a simplified tax system like one we designed for the video game SimCity 4."
Adopting such a simple tax structure, Katsarelis said, would allow fantasy political leaders to focus their energy on infrastructure and national security. "Our game design team thought that an easy to understand taxation system would allow players to focus on building their cities and have fun thwarting giant lizard attacks, rather than be buried by overly complex financial systems."
When asked about similarities between Cain's plan and SimCity's default tax rates, Cain campaign spokesman JD Gordon replied, "Well, we all like 9-9-9."
Rich Lowrie, the Ohio Wells Fargo employee who is the brains behind Cain's plan, did not return a request for comment regarding whether he is a fan of SimCity and looked to the game for inspiration.
A receptionist at Lowrie's Wells Fargo office said she doubted his idea came from SimCity. "Probably not," she told The Huffington Post. "I don't think he's much of a game person."
Presumably, under the Cain plan, disasters would be turned off.
Ryan Grim contributed reporting.