The PJ Tatler

'The Buffett Rule: A Basic Principle of Tax Fairness'

President Obama’s National Economic Council released a report painting the Buffett Rule as “a basic principle of tax fairness” before the Senate votes on it next week.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) offered a measure detailing Obama’s plan to raise taxes on higher income earners, named after Warren Buffett’s assertion that he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.

On a conference call with reporters highlighting today’s release, Alan Krueger, chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, said the rule’s effort to bring upper-income earners who manage to avoid higher taxes into line with the rest of the wealthy makes it “horizontally fair,” while it “also satisfies progressively vertical fairness” of wanting the rich to pay a greater share than others.

“Having a more progressive tax code makes sense” in a time of greater income inequality, Krueger said, “at a time when the market is driving more income into the hands of the highest income earners.”

The White House also tried to tout the Buffett Rule as being more economically efficient in its proposal that no millionaire pay less than 30 percent of their income in taxes.

“Addressing these inequities through tax reform that includes a Buffett Rule can also improve the efficiency of the tax system by discouraging tax planning and reducing distortions to behavior,” the report states.

Obama will promote the report today with a speech in Boca Raton, Fla., sandwiched between campaign events.

“The Buffett Rule is not an across‐the‐board tax increase on high‐income households; it is a way to ensure that no millionaire is paying less than the middle class,” says the report.

On the call, NEC Principal Deputy Director Jason Furman countered criticism that the Buffett Rule would only raise an additional $47 billion in revenue over 10 years.

“We think $47 billion is actually a meaningful amount,” he said. “This was never our plan to bring the deficit down,” he added, but a component to make the tax system fair.

The full-court press — and upcoming Senate vote — indicate just how heavily the Obama campaign is going to rely on its fairness doctrine when canvassing America.

“I think that we hope it will pass,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said of the Paying a Fair Share Act of 2012 at Monday’s press briefing. “I think that every senator who votes on it will have to examine for himself or herself whether or not they want to vote for a bill that says millionaires and billionaires should not pay taxes on their income at a lower rate than middle-class Americans, or vote against it. And they will have to explain to their constituents why they don’t agree with that principle.”