National Catholic Reporter

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The Problem with Simplicity

At last night's debate, Herman Cain said that one of the advantages of his 9-9-9 plan was that it is simple. He is not entirely wrong. It would have been better, politically, if the President had organized his health care reform around the simple-to-understand proposition - Medicare for everybody. The part about Cain's plan that has people swooning is not so much the 9-9-9 part, it is that he starts by eliminating the current, byzantine tax code.

But, there is also something to Mitt Romney's observation that simple answers are often inadequate. Ask Barack Obama, who promised change, a simple enough noun to understand.

Still, Cain's proposal is not only simple. It is a big idea, simply expressed. When you get to the details, many American who currently enjoy deducting their home mortgage interest might think twice. But, Americans like big ideas, and the bigger the better. In his World War II memoirs, Winston Churchill observed: "Their [Americans'] national psychology is such that the bigger the Idea, the more wholeheartedly and obstinately do they throw themselves into making it a success. It is an admitable characteristic, provided the Idea is good."

Explore Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on the family with our free study guide.

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