Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Alas, The Buffett Rule "Only" Raises Some Revenue & Brings About Some Tax Justice.

Yesterday, ProgressNow Nevada and PLAN were on the sidewalk just outside the Sunset Post Office (across Sunset Road from McCarran Airport). Why? They figured "Tax Day" would be the perfect day to highlight the many problems hidden in the federal tax code.

Here's the problem.

This Tax Day, a significant majority of Americans think that the rich are getting off easy compared to middle- and working-class Americans. According to the latest CNN poll, “68% of respondents said the current tax system benefits the rich and is unfair to ordinary workers, compared with 29% who disagreed with that view.” The poll’s respondents have good reason to think the rich pay less: Many millionaires pay a lower effective tax rate because their income comes from capital gains or other low-tax investments, instead of wages. Yet Senate Republicans blocked the Buffett Rule last night, which would have helped address this problem, even though it too has strong support from the public.

That's right. "The usual suspects" blocked The Buffett Rule. And they whined about "raising taxes" on the 1% who hardly pay any.

Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada has long supported the idea of the Buffett Rule and this bill. But Sen. Dean Heller, a Republican, voted against it Monday evening -- dismissing it as a “campaign gimmick,” anticipating the attacks Democrats will be lobbing his way with an answer.

“While Nevada struggles with high unemployment, the president and Senate Democrats have chosen to focus on a measure that will not create a single job,” Heller said in a statement. “They have ignored rising gas prices, have not passed a budget in more than three years, and shoved job-killing government health care on small businesses across the country. Now, the best they can do is push a tax hike designed for nothing more than a campaign press release. It’s no wonder the American people are so frustrated with Washington.”

Reid's statement following the vote stated: “Today Senate Republicans again put millionaires ahead of the middle class. Currently, most hedge fund managers pay a lower tax rate than many of their middle-class employees – but while the incomes for the wealthy have ballooned in recent years, middle-class wages haven’t kept pace with the price of a college education or a secure retirement. The measure that Republicans blocked today would have restored fairness to our tax code and reduced the deficit without asking middle class families or seniors to sacrifice any more than they already have."

Oh, jeez. Where has Dean Heller been? Oh yes, that's right. He's been busy attacking women's health care. I guess he just hasn't had time to actually do his job and propose any real solutions for the problems our country faces.

Meanwhile, Joe Heck has been busy trashing The Buffett Rule on Twitter. I guess he has to do whatever he can to have his BFF's back. After all, Joe Heck's BFF, Willard "Mr. 1%" Romney, only paid a 13.9% tax rate on his $21.6 million 2010 income. He certainly wouldn't want "job creators" like Mittens to pay what they're supposed to be paying in taxes.

Certainly, we've been hearing plenty of spin from the G-O-TEA this week on The Buffett Rule and federal taxes. Here are the facts. Our current federal tax code essentially makes the 99% subsidize the 1% by way of the massive loopholes that the super-rich use (and abuse) to avoid paying taxes. The big corporations that spend the most on lobbying pay the least in taxes. The very wealthiest Americans living in the highest income zip codes in the country pay less in taxes than the working poor living in low income zip codes. Notice a pattern here? Inequality in our federal tax code is real, and it penalizes working class families while continuing to provide "Billionaires' Bailouts".

Oh, and for all the G-O-TEA's whining on budget deficits, they're not proposing any real solutions to close that deficit. They may be whining that the reforms present in "The Buffett Rule" only raise about $47 billion in revenue, but their budget plans actually add to the deficit! So Joe Heck and Dean Heller claim The Buffett Rule is useless because it may "only" raise about $47 billion (which, by the way, is their figure!), yet their preferred policies only worsen the budget deficit while continuing to promote massive inequality. Funny enough, Heck, Heller, and Romney have gone so far to the radical right in opposing common sense tax reform that they even oppose their supposed idol!

And even at Mittens' recent campaign "roundtable", he couldn't stop participants from pointing out some inconvenient truths.

Whoops. So why again is The Buffett Rule such a bad idea? And did the ProgressNow and PLAN supporters rallying outside the Sunset Post Office near McCarran yesterday look so "crazy" after all? I guess they're not alone.

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