As America continues to plant fresh economic roots in an attempt to prevent further erosion, the President continues his crusade against . . . ancillary matters. He is doing so by barnstorming the country by pushing what his spin team has dubbed, “the Buffett rule.”
This is the pattern that we have seen before. Obama passes the stimulus bill in the hopes of getting the economy turned around and then spends most of the first two years pursuing a healthcare bill. He gets Cantor’s JOBS act passed last week and then pivots to an issue that isn’t going to get Americans working again, isn’t going to make us more competitive in the global markets and that does nothing to increase productivity, etc.
The Buffett Rule, is a guarantee that families bringing in one million dollars or more annually will pay at least 30% of it in taxes. It would effect approximately 433,000 households and effects 0.3% of all American taxpayers. Currently, millionaires pay a tax rate as high as 35% on earnings, while most pay, on average approximately 19% with deductions.
The strategy of calling it the “Buffett” rule stems in part from Mr. Warren Buffett. Buffett himself is a strange case. He is constantly calling for his own taxes to be raised. First of all, he is not a millionaire, he is a billionaire. Secondly, while he is certainly allowed to call for higher taxes while paying lower taxes, it seems disingenuous.
For all of the pushback from the left when Obama is accused of wanting European style soft socialism, the strategy for calling the tax “the Buffett rule” came from a European country that demonized a successful billionaire translating the gimmickry into enough capital to pass an increase. It worked there, Obama’s team figured, why not here.
Oddly, the White House hasn’t argued that passing the bill would get Americans working again. They haven’t argued that it will work to close the deficit, balance the budget or create any tangible benefit to America at all. They have argued that it should be passed for this reason: fairness.
That’s right, in the middle of a recession, the president is making his priority overall fairness. His priority isn’t getting poor kids more educational opportunities, breaking up big banks to prevent another meltdown or lowering taxes on start-ups, it is, to quote the White House, raise taxes “as a basic rule of tax fairness.”
It is bad enough to discuss raising taxes to balance the budget. It is entirely worse to tout a tax increase in order to make things “fair”, defined by a Democrat. If I were a democrat, I would argue that tax increases are necessary to balance the budget, but I would never argue that we needed to do so to be fair. Almost one in five Americans already consider themselves to be in the top “one percent.” Many more Americans than that believe that if they work hard enough, they will one day become part of the maligned “one percent.”
While this site has refrained from referring to Obama as a radical (with the exception of his anti-life stance), this legislation is beyond the pale. The difference between a moderate president and a president moving towards radical is simple. A moderate tries to right the course of the country through the president’s own partisan worldview. Like FDR, the president’s solution may be very far to the left, but is in service to correcting a national problem. Alternatively, a radical attempts to push the country toward the fringe without a tangible benefit to the nation except to serve his worldview. In the first instance, the worldview acts as a means to an end. In the second case, achieving the worldview is the end game.
The sad thing for President Obama is that in a year when he will face a candidate as weak as John McCain or Bob Dole, he is still going to be in a tight race. The reason it will be tight is because while most Americans know that they like Obama as a person, they recognize that he isn’t really capable in the field of macro-economics. The feeling in America is that Obama himself doesn’t really have the answer. If Obama keeps going down these rabbit trails that hardly raise any revenue but instead act to go after the successful, he may find himself having a race on his hands with Mr. Romney after all.
The Buffett Rule failed in the Senate last week and the House will not be bringing it up. The plan was never to pass it but to play politics. This is simple partisanship and class warfare. Class warfare is defined not as recognizing the growing income disparity between the middle and upper class, but demonizing successful demographics in order to create jealousy and resentment in the masses for the purpose of winning elections.
While Mr. Romney will not be able win in 2012 by creating fear in the electorate, neither will Mr. Obama. Mr. Obama should stop wasting our time with this gimmickry and do what he can to grow the economy and lower unemployment, that is what the American people want from him.