President Obama has been making a lot of hay about the Buffett Rule. Named after billionaire Warren Buffett, who has famously said he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary, the rule would set a baseline tax rate of 30 percent for yearly incomes over $1 million. The Obama administration says enacting this policy is a matter of economic fairness and common sense, and that it would be the first step toward closing our massive budget deficit. His opponents, however, see nothing more than a cynical campaign ploy. Is the Buffett Rule just smoke and mirrors?
It won't solve the country's fiscal problems: The Buffett Rule is a "gimmick," says Dana Milbank at The Washington Post. The Buffett Rule would raise a paltry $47 billion in revenue over the next 10 years, a drop in the bucket compared to our annual $1.2 trillion deficit. It's too bad Obama "doesn't use his unrivaled political skill to sell a tax plan of more consequence."
"Rebuffing Obama's gimmicky 'Buffett Rule'"
But it does highlight economic inequality: "The Buffett Rule is a compelling symbol" of economic inequality in America, says The New York Times in an editorial. Obama has "persuasively argued that it would be a step toward fairness in a tax code tilted in favor of the wealthiest Americans." And he has every right to make the "serious and growing problem" of income inequality "a central issue in this year's campaign." We hope that the Buffett Rule "is only a start," and that Obama takes other steps "to ensure that the benefits of economic growth are shared among all Americans."
"Mr. Obama and the 'Buffett Rule'"
And voters seem to agree with Obama: Polls show that about 60 percent of Americans think the U.S. economic system "favors the wealthy," says Ari Berman at The Nation. So "it makes no sense to discard a populist message that is clearly resonating among a majority of the electorate." Obama's "focus on income inequality has put the GOP on the defensive," and shifting gears "would be political suicide, not to mention terrible public policy."
"Why economic populism is a winning strategy for Obama"