The Spectacle Blog

Thoughts on Obama’s “Buffett Rule”

By on 9.18.11 | 12:56AM

When I first heard that President Obama was planning to propose a "Buffett Rule" I knew it had nothing to do with parrotheads, margaritas and cheeseburgers.

Obama is apparently set to propose a minimum tax for millionaires and billionaires on Monday. This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone given what he has said in promotion of the American Jobs Act over the past few days beginning with his speech before a joint session of Congress on September 8th:

Should we keep tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires? Or should we put teachers back to work so our kids can graduate ready for college and good jobs? Right now, we can't afford to do both.

This isn't political grandstanding. This isn't class warfare. This is simple math. This is simple math. These are real choices. These are real choices we've got to make. And I'm pretty sure I know what most Americans would choose. It's not even close. And it's time for us to do what's right for our future.

On September 9th, while speaking at the University of Virginia in Richmond, President Obama said:

Should we keep tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires? Or should we put teachers back to work, so our kids are ready to graduate from college and get a good job. We can't afford to do both.

We've got to make real choices about the kind of country we want to be. That's not class warfare. I'm not attacking anybody. I'm just - it's simple math. We can't afford for folks who are the most fortunate to do the least, and put the largest burden on the folks who are struggling the most. That doesn't make sense.

Three days later, this is what President Obama said in the Rose Garden:

Should we keep tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires -- or should we invest in education and technology and infrastructure, all the things that are going to help us out-innovate and out-educate and out-build other countries in the future?

On September 13th, President Obama found himself at Fort Hayes High School in Columbus, Ohio and guess what traversed his lips:

Do you want to keep tax breaks for multi-millionaires and billionaires? Or do you want to put teachers back to work, help small businesses, and cut taxes for middle-class families?

Then the following day, President Obama spoke at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina. I think you know what's coming:

Do you want to keep tax breaks for multi-millionaires and billionaires? Or do you want to cut taxes for small business owners and middle-class families?

This, of course, the same in speech in which Obama said, "If you love me, you got to help me pass this bill."

It's going to take a lot more than love for President Obama to get Congress pass his jobs bill and he knows it. Obama knows full well House Republicans will never go for a jobs bill which involves such a tax increase. It'll give Obama an opportunity to say, "We had a chance to put teachers back to work, help small businesses and cut taxes for middle class families. But Republicans are more interested in keeping tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires. They are putting party ahead of country."

I can only hope people will see right through it. After all, President Obama is presenting us with false choices. How does increasing the capital gains tax or imposing a minimum tax on millionaires and billionaires put teachers back to work and help small businesses? How does that encourage investment? Doesn't that only provide incentive to those who have wealth to move it offshore?

Besides I thought President Obama provided a tax cut to 95% of all Americans. As recently as his Labor Day speech in Detroit (you know the one where Teamsters Jimmy Hoffa, Jr. called Tea Party activists SOBs) Obama claimed "we signed into law the biggest middle-class tax cut in history, putting more money into your pockets." Well, fat lot of good it did with unemployment in excess of 9%, near zero economic growth and more than half a billion dollars wasted on sink holes like Solyndra. Under the circumstances, I am inclined to think that people will see beyond the gimmicks and respond to Obama's invocation of Buffett with a firm "stuff it."

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