10/21/2011 05:45 pm ET Updated Dec 21, 2011

Herman Cain: 5 Questions on the U.S. Economy

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain is a smart, articulate, well-educated American, who happens to be a Black man. He has a successful business background and has held his ground against GOP rivals in recent debates. Cain has risen to the top of the heap of a group of eight candidates, which have cycled through a dramatic series of re-shuffling the top contenders that is more apropos to the college football BCS standings than a presidential race. Through it all, Cain has staked his claim to the nomination upon an economic vision he calls the 9-9-9 Plan.

Cain's 999 Plan is based upon these fundamental economic beliefs:

  • Production drives the economy. Not spending.
  • Business formation and job creation depend on entrepreneurs taking risks.
  • Investors who fund entrepreneurs also take risks.
  • We must unite around economic growth.

I have five questions for Herman Cain:

Q1: The GOP believes in the power of production. Yet, at its zenith in 2007, all 1.9 million Black-owned businesses produced revenues totaling less than 1 percent of the GDP ... before the economic collapse. By contrast, startup companies less than five years old backed by venture capital funds are responsible for 21 percent of GDP. Is the Republican Party aware of the economic history of Black-owned businesses and the challenges Black entrepreneurs face in seeking to contribute and compete in an "American" economic system that is historically owned and overwhelmingly controlled by White Americans despite the fact minorities represent roughly 36 percent of the population?

Followup question: If the GOP is cognizant of the challenges faced by 1.9 million Black-owned businesses, what actionable steps have been taken to address the fact that 1.8 million are sole proprietors who have no employees?

Q2: The GOP believes that business formation and job creation depends upon entrepreneurs taking risks. In today's knowledge-based, tech-driven innovation economy, all net new job growth since 1980 is due to startup companies five years old and younger, according to the Kauffman Foundation. The top 1 percent of those companies produce 40 percent of new jobs each year. The obvious elephant in the room is the presence of angel and venture capital investments, which help fuel such rapid growth of new companies. Yet, no such risk capital infrastructure exists in Black and Hispanic America. How is it possible that a 65-year-old private risk capital industry was developed in "America," yet benefited overwhelmingly just White America while completely missing any development of high-growth entrepreneurial ecosystems in communities targeting Black and Hispanic Americans?

Followup question: What actionable plans does the GOP have in place to address the fact that the private risk capital industry is severely lacking participation by Blacks and Hispanics to any appreciable degree and few minority startup founders receive funding from the existing infrastructure?

Q3: On your website, you proclaim that "we" must unite around economic growth. Since the vast majority of wealth in America is owned and controlled by the top 10 percent of the wealthiest Americans, 99% of whom are White Americans, how do you propose the rest of us unite around economic growth policies over which we have no control and do not benefit us?

Followup question: Where is the GOP version of the Tiger 21 club for the middle class and minorities?

Q4: The GOP is a political body that raises hundreds of millions of dollars to engage in the dissemination of public messages -- a process that transfers massive amounts of funds raised directly into the pockets of media companies, the overwhelming majority of which are owned and controlled by White Americans. What percentage each year does the GOP spend with non-White owned media to reach the vast majority of non-White Americans and how do those percentages break down for your campaign?

Followup question: Since the GOP favors non-government solutions, what actionable plans has the GOP funded or endorsed that seek to uplift Blacks and Hispanics from the economic depths that consistently plague them from decade to decade despite which party is in power?

Q5: President Obama has consistently pointed to STEM education as an essential ingredient in providing students options and opportunity in the 21st century innovation economy. He has strongly urged support for high-growth entrepreneurship and the development of entrepreneurial ecosystems from pipeline to productivity. Your economic vision sounds like you largely agree with President Obama. What do you think of the leadership in the Congressional Black Caucus and at HBCUs pertaining to economic policies?

Followup question: How do you intend to change the generational statistic of Black unemployment that has consistently, year-over-year, remained double the overall jobless rate of White Americans -- given that the private sector drives job growth and Whites have owned the vast majority of all employer companies since Dr. King was complaining loudly about the jobless rate in the 60s?