President Barack Obama Wednesday continued his efforts to pressure Congress to enact the so-called "Buffett Rule" aimed at ensuring wealthy Americans pay a higher share of their income in taxes.
Named for billionaire investor Warren Buffett, the "Buffett Rule" would seek to ensure that the wealthiest aren't able to pay lower effective federal income tax rates than the middle class.
Obama, speaking at an event surrounded by successful business people and their secretaries, said the goal of the proposal was to build an economy that gives everyone a fair shot while ensuring that everyone also pays their fair share for the national investments needed for prosperity.
"The people who have joined me here today are extremely successful," Obama said. "They've created jobs and opportunity for thousands of Americans. … They love the country that made their success possible, and most importantly, they want to make sure that the next generation, people coming up behind them, have the same opportunities that they had."
He added, "They understand, though, that for some time now, when compared to the middle class, they haven't been asked to do their fair share. And they are here because they believe there is something deeply wrong and irresponsible about that."
Obama said that nearly 25 percent of millionaires are able to pay lower effective tax rates than the middle class by taking advantage of tax loopholes and preferential treatment for some kinds of investment income.
"The executives who are with me here today, not just behind me but in the audience, agree with me," the president said. "They, in fact, have brought some of their own assistants to prove that same point -- that it is just plain wrong that middle-class Americans pay a higher share of their income in taxes than some millionaires and billionaires."
He added, "Now, it's not that these folks are excited about the idea of paying more taxes. … Nobody loves paying taxes. In a perfect world, none of us would have to pay any taxes."
However, the necessities for a prosperous America - from paying down the debt and caring for veterans to building schools roads and bridges - require investments from the people, Obama said.
"That means we can't afford to keep spending more money on tax cuts for wealthy Americans who don't need them and weren't even asking for them," he said. "It's time we did something about it."
He added, "This is also about being able to make the investments we need to succeed. And it's about we as a country being willing to pay for those investments and closing our deficits."
Obama also sought to undercut potential opposition from Congressional Republicans, who argue that the "Buffett Rule" alone won't fix the federal budget deficit.
"Well, I agree. That's not all we have to do to close the deficit," he said. "But the notion that it doesn't solve the entire problem doesn't mean that we shouldn't do it at all."
He added, "There are enough excuses for inaction in Washington. We certainly don't need more excuses."
Obama also turned to an unexpected historical source in marshalling his argument for the rule and seeking to win over Republican support.
"This President gave another speech where he said it was 'crazy' -- that's a quote -- that certain tax loopholes make it possible for multimillionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying 10 percent of his salary," Obama said. "That wild-eyed, socialist, tax-hiking class warrior was Ronald Reagan.
He added, "If it will help convince folks in Congress to make the right choice, we could call it the Reagan Rule instead of the Buffett Rule."
by RTT Staff Writer
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