The “Buffet rule”: an attempt at tax fairness or just a “shiny” distraction?Blog added by Paul Wilson on April 16, 2012
Paul Wilson

Paul Wilson

Denver, CO

Joined: May 30, 2007

The Senate is scheduled to hold a vote today on the so-called “Buffet rule,” a Democratic bill sponsored by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., that would require taxpayers making more than $1 million annually to pay higher federal taxes.

Citing Warren Buffet, who says he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary, President Obama has stated that those earning $1 million or more should pay a minimum of 30 percent of their income in taxes.

While the rule has received a lot of media attention, only 1 percent of small business owners would actually be directly affected by the proposal, according to data from the U.S. Treasury Department.

A recent Gallup poll found that 60 percent of Americans support the law, with approximately three-quarters of Democrats in favor of the plan. Meanwhile, 43 percent of Republicans favor the plan and 54 percent are against it.

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus recently accused President Obama of using “shiny objects” such as the Buffet Rule to distract voters.

“This is Obama’s strategy. Look over here at this shiny object, don’t look at the big picture, don’t look at the economy on the brink that I didn’t do a thing about and made worse,” Priebus said.

Obama contends that the proposal is not an argument about redistribution of wealth, but rather “an argument about how do we grow the economy so that it’s going to prosper in this competitive 21st century environment.”

While the vote today is not expected to receive the necessary support to move ahead, it does require senators to go on record regarding a topic that will surely come up again. It also provides an appropriate segue into the upcoming debates over current income tax provisions, which expire at the end of the year.

So, how big of an issue is wealth disparity in the United States? Does it concern you that the top 1 percent is receiving a high share of the national income while paying some of the lowest tax rates seen in decades? Is the “Buffet rule” a legitimate attempt to address the issue or just a potent reelection strategy?
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