Obama back to championing ‘Buffett rule’

Paul Conner | Executive Editor

The “Buffett rule” is back.

Six months after first proposing raising taxes on America’s rich to force everyone to “pay their fair share,” President Barack Obama is again touting the plan as congressional Democrats aim to bring the measure up for a vote.

The rule contrasts with the Rep. Paul Ryan budget, which House Republicans passed this week largely on party lines. The Ryan budget would, among other things, revamp and simplify the tax code, but the White House alleges that the changes would mean that the wealthy would pay a smaller percentage in taxes than those with mid-range incomes.

“When it comes to paying down the deficit and investing in our future, should we ask middle-class Americans to pay even more at a time when their budgets are already stretched to the breaking point?” Obama asked in his weekly address released Saturday. “Or should we ask some of the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share? That’s the choice.”

In reality, the Buffett rule, named for billionaire Warren Buffett, would do precious little to bring down the deficit, compared with the nation’s enormous debt. A congressional tax analysis obtained by The Associated Press showed that the rule would bring in just $47 billion over the next 11 years. These United States are projected to run $7 trillion in deficits over that time period.

In other words, the Buffett rule would account for .0067 percent of the funds needed to make up the federal deficit in the next 11 years.

But the White House has argued that raising taxes on the rich is the right thing to do, no matter how little it would reduce the deficit. Touting the rule allows Obama to take a poll-tested position that makes him appear serious about deficit reduction.

The push is also the latest in Obama’s campaign against Congress. Over the last two weeks, the president has focused his energy domestically on pushing Congress to end tax breaks for the five big oil companies. Obama worked in coordination with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Democrat from Nevada, to bring such a bill to the Senate floor, but Republicans voted to end debate on the legislation on Thursday, killing the bill.

“Every member of Congress is going to go on record,” Obama said. “And if they vote to keep giving tax breaks to people like me — tax breaks our country can’t afford — then they’re going to have to explain to you where that money comes from. Either it’s going to add to our deficit, or it’s going to come out of your pocket.”

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