I Still Support the Buffett Rule


by: John Wisniewski
Tue Apr 17, 2012 at 03:54 PM EDT

Yesterday, Senate Republicans made it clear that they are the party of special rules for millionaires and billionaires when they rejected...

E-mail Address:

I Still Support the Buffett Rule

April 17, 2012

by: John Wisniewski
Tue Apr 17, 2012 at 03:54 PM EDT

Yesterday, Senate Republicans made it clear that they are the party of special rules for millionaires and billionaires when they rejected legislation to make the country's richest pay their fair share. Today, as millions of Americans file their federal and state tax returns, I am still standing with President Obama in support of the Buffett Rule. Why? It is simple: millionaires and billionaires shouldn't pay a lower tax rate than New Jersey's firefighters, police officers, and teachers.

Here in New Jersey and around the country, working and middle class families are struggling to provide for their children and make ends meet. After having endured the worst recession of my lifetime, families are just beginning to get back on their feet and our economy is starting to grow our middle class again.

Yet, many of these families are paying a greater percentage of their income in taxes than the wealthiest Americans pay. These families play by the rules, work hard, and they don't get to take advantage of the special tax breaks millionaires and billionaires often benefit from. Even with yesterday's setback, I still support the Buffett Rule. We need to close the loopholes, end the special tax breaks only available to those with great wealth and make sure everyone pays their fair share. As Warren Buffett, one of the richest men in the world, has said, he and others like him should not pay a lower effective tax rate than their secretaries.

Over the past three years, President Obama has worked to cut taxes on working and middle class families. In his first month in office in 2009, President Obama cut taxes for 90% of Americans. For the past two years under President Obama, they have also received tax relief through the payroll tax holiday worth about $1,000 a year. The Buffett Rule would ensure that working and middle class families don't pay a higher tax rate than the wealthiest Americans.

In contrast to President Obama's work, the Republican Party continues to push the lie of trickle-down economics -- the idea that huge tax breaks for the rich will eventually benefit working and middle class Americans. In 2010, Republicans pushed through an extension of the Bush tax cuts, which cut taxes on millionaires by $139,000, while giving the working poor a cut of $554. Governor Christie and his favorite candidate, Mitt Romney, support a plan that would give the richest Americans an even larger tax cut. They want to perpetuate a system that awards those with substantial wealth with special tax breaks and loopholes not available to working Americans. Romney, the richest Presidential candidate in American history, has also refused to release more than one year of tax returns because he knows he pays a substantially lower tax rate than the average American. For last year, the one year of returns that we have seen, Governor Romney only paid 13.9% -- far less than many middle class families.

So what would tax policy under a President Romney look like? Under Romney's proposed tax plan, he wants to award himself a $250,000 tax cut on top of his already low rate. Meanwhile, 18 million working families would actually see their taxes increase by $900 per year. To pay for his giveaway to millionaires and billionaires, Romney would increase the deficit and make staggering cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. This is a man with a Swiss bank account, investments in offshore tax havens like the Cayman Islands and Luxembourg, and a luxury home complete with a car elevator. Does he honestly think awarding himself another $250,000 justifies raising taxes on struggling families and cutting vital programs for seniors and the working poor?

Americans value fairness. I support the Buffett Rule because everyone should pay their fair share. I look forward to the day when it becomes law.

This also appeared on BlueJersey.com on April 17, 2012