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Obama's 'Buffett Rule': Is hiking millionaires' taxes 'class warfare'?
The president wants a new tax rate for wealthy Americans — inspired by billionaire Warren Buffett, who pays a lower tax rate than his secretary
 
President Obama wants to take billionaire Warren Buffett up on his suggestion that super-wealthy Americans pay higher taxes, and the GOP is crying "class warfare."
President Obama wants to take billionaire Warren Buffett up on his suggestion that super-wealthy Americans pay higher taxes, and the GOP is crying "class warfare."
Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

On Monday, President Obama is unveiling his plan to reduce long-term deficits by about $3 trillion — a figure split roughly evenly between spending cuts and tax increases. Republicans have already lashed out at Obama's plan, especially the president's "Buffett rule" — inspired by billionaire Warren Buffett, who argues that it's unfair that he pay a lower tax rate than his secretary. (In addition to the many "deductions, credits, and loopholes" in the tax code, millionaires benefit when their income is derived from investments — which are subject to a 15 percent capital gains tax rather than higher federal income tax rates.) Obama's plan seeks to change that by instituting a minimum tax rate for millionaires. "Class warfare may make for really good politics," Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said of the plan, "but it makes for rotten economics." Is making the super-wealthy pay the same tax rate as the rest of us really "class warfare"?

Yes. This is textbook class warfare: Republicans might overuse the "class warfare" charge, but this time they're right, says James Joyner at Outside the Beltway. "The sole purpose of this proposal, which has zero chance of being passed into law, is to leverage resentment against the most successful for political advantage." If Obama wanted to start a serious discussion on revamping the tax code to increase revenue, he wouldn't push "gimmicks" like this "silly 'Millionaires Tax.'"
"Obama's millionaire's tax"

Sure, it's class warfare — against the poor: Calling Obama's "token swipe at the very rich" class warfare is "total malarkey," says Robert Kuttner at The Huffington Post. The rich "have continued to make out like bandits," and when they had higher tax rates in the boom years of the 1990s and post–World War II era, everyone prospered. But the second part of Obama's deficit plan, in which he cuts social and Medicare spending, is "class warfare, big time, and it's the wrong kind" — the kind that cripples "the working poor."
"Muddled class warfare"

At least Obama is finally articulating his own plan: "In an ideal world, I'd prefer higher taxes on (some of) the middle class as well as the wealthy," says Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic. But by focusing on the wealthiest 0.3 percent of Americans, Obama is "drawing a pretty clear line in the sand." The president is done following the GOP's lead — he's putting forth his own vision for reducing the deficit. Republicans can meet him halfway or not, but at least this way, voters will know where Obama stands.
"Obama to GOP: I got your deficit plan right here"

 

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