Warren Buffett, the outspoken business billionaire, published a well-known editorial a few months ago in The New York Times that criticized what he called a “billionaire-friendly Congress.”
As a result, the “Buffett Rule” was devised, a measure motivated more by politics than economics. Accordingly, its impacts will be felt more in the realm of the previous than the latter.
The April 19 New York Times characterizes the Buffett Rule as, “a $47 billion tax increase on the nation’s richest households.” On a more individualized scale, it explains the rule would require a minimum 30 percent income tax rate for individuals making over a million
dollars a year.
Here’s what we need to take away from this: the Rule would impact a fraction of 1 percent of our population and its revenue would decrease the national deficit by a small fraction.
As one might have guessed – or should guess – Republicans and a man who will likely be representing them in the 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney, have mocked and lambasted the Rule.
They argue, and please note the broadness with which I cover their complaints, the Rule does next to nothing in the grand scheme of the federal deficit, it harms small business and is simply unfair.
On the flip side of the coin, Obama and his Democrat pals argue the Rule: a great measure to help solve the deficit, is a positive rhetorical move against the tide of class warfare and holds the rich accountable for their economic fair share.
If there was ever a case of partisan stupidity, than surely, this is it. After all, they are both right and wrong.
As the Huffington Post of April 19 succinctly opines, “So Romney is right to mock the Buffett Rule as more about politics than economic fairness, and Obama is right that even if it’s a drop in the bucket, it’s still worth doing. Both are wrong to make a big deal about the Buffett Rule as having a serious economic effect one way or the other.”
The Buffett Rule highlights the increasingly problematic partisanship within Congress. It is nothing less than incredible that the two sides of the aisle are so biased as to disagree on even the most elementary of facts.
One area to help Congress begin operating more effectively is to rectify the unproductive discourse on tax policy.
The Washington Post of March 13 asserts, “These tiresome debates obscure the
near-consensus in Washington on taxes: Republicans don’t want to raise taxes on anyone, and Democrats don’t want to raise taxes on almost anyone… The longer they cling to their ridiculous tax pledges, the more both parties lose their ability to shape public policy on the issues they claim to care about most.”
It’s time to ditch the pledges and begin the real work of fixing the deficit, conceptualizing an agreed upon concept of “fair” and blur the lines between Democrat and Republican.