The PJ Tatler

White House: Buffett Rule Will Pass If GOP Senators 'Listen to Constituents'

The White House said today that passage of the Buffett Rule next week in the Senate means convincing Republican lawmakers that their constituents really want the tax-fairness law.

“I think that we certainly understand that it’s a challenge to persuade Republicans in the Senate, in this case, to listen to their constituents who overwhelmingly support the idea of tax fairness, who overwhelmingly support the simple notion that millionaires and billionaires should pay taxes on their income at at least as high a rate as middle-class Americans,” spokesman Jay Carney said aboard Air Force One as President Obama flew to Florida for a Buffett Rule speech sandwiched between two campaign fundraisers. Florida Democratic Reps. Ted Deutch and Frederica Wilson greeted Obama at the West Palm Beach airport.

“It may be an uphill battle, but it’s not an impossible battle — not because the President urges them to do so or even because Warren Buffett urges them to do, but because their own constituents are urging them to do so,” Carney added. “The fact is every member of the House and a third of the Senate is up for — faces election this fall, and in this case, members of the Senate are going to have to explain to their constituents if they oppose the Buffett Rule why they oppose it.”

Republican senators weren’t warming to the idea, with one calling today’s White House Buffett Rule report a “partisan manifesto.”

“Only in Washington will you see a partisan manifesto created to try and justify a campaign tax hike that will create zero jobs, do nothing to lower the price of gas, and has no chance of passing,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).

“Today’s presidential visit is a missed opportunity because the ‘Buffett Rule’ is little more than an election year political stunt to raise taxes on investors who help create jobs,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). “Without these investors taking risks and investing in new businesses or expanding existing ones, we can’t create new jobs. The Buffett Rule is a flawed policy because it raises taxes on job-creating investment and makes no meaningful dent in our national debt.”

“President Obama doesn’t get it,” Rubio added.

Carney also repeated the assertion of senior administration officials yesterday that the Buffett Rule is just about tax fairness.

“We never suggested — the President, no one ever suggested that implementing the Buffett Rule would contribute in large measure to reducing the deficit,” he said. “The President has put forward a comprehensive deficit reduction plan that takes a balanced approach, that includes as a principle of tax reform the Buffett Rule, but that does not rely on — and we never suggested it would rely on — the Buffett Rule to reduce the deficit by a significant measure. It is a principle of tax fairness.”