By Tom Quiner

The Buffett Rule is political demagoguery

The Buffett Rule.

That is was what the president believes in. It seems that is all he is talking about these days.

President Obama has little accomplishment after three years as our nation’s president.

He passed Obamacare.

That is huge, only no one likes it. It turns out the numbers the president and his party presented to sell the program to America were skewed. Now that the bill is passed and we see what’s in it, we discover, according to the Congressional Budget Office, that it is going to raise our deficits a whole lot.

Democrats sold it as reducing deficits. The public feels burned.

It also seems likely that the Supreme Court is going to declare at least a portion of it unconstitutional. We certainly don’t know this for a fact, but that seems to be the indication. This would be a blow to Mr. Obama whose primary qualification for the presidency was his background as a “constitutional scholar.”

Mr. Obama’s other major accomplishment was his huge stimulus bill. No one likes it either, because it didn’t work and it increased the deficits.

So we don’t hear the president talk about Obamacare.

We don’t hear him talk about the success of the stimulus.

We hear him talk about “tax fairness” under the guise of the Buffett Rule. This is the essence of Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.

It poses some questions.

Are America’s most-productive people, also known as the rich, paying too little in taxes?

It doesn’t look like it. The top one percent of earners pay 40 percent of all income tax. And that has more than doubled (from 19%) in 1980. And it has doubled as the top marginal rate has been reduced.

Okay, will the Buffet Rule, named for billionaire Warren Buffett who proposed it, solve our deficit crisis?

No, it will not. The Buffett Rule would impose a minimum 30% tax on Americans earning over a million dollars a year. It would generate less than $5 billion a year. This, by the way, is a best-guess scenario. It assumes these super producers don’t change their behavior as a result of this tax hike. Assuming Mr. Obama is correct, it would reduce the deficit by less than half-a-percent.

It’s chicken feed in the scheme of things.

It makes no difference on the financial crisis confronting our debt-ridden nation.

Okay, but couldn’t the government spend fat-cat’s money better than they could?

Yeah, right. No one believes that including Barack Obama and Warren Buffett. Nothing prevents them from donating additional earnings to the federal treasury. But none of these liberals do it, because they know too much of it is going down a rat hole.

Why didn’t the president push this bill sooner?

After all, Mr. Obama suggests that this tax hike is the cornerstone of saving America. I base my remarks on the urgency and frequency in his appeal to impose the Buffett Rule on America’s top producers.

If this is so critical, why didn’t he pass it in 2009 when Democrats controlled Congress?

Why not in 2010? Same thing. They could have rammed it down Republican throats?

Why didn’t he introduce it in 2011?

Because it is all political theater intended to divide Americans against each other and win the president votes.

The Buffett Rule will not make America sounder financially. The president’s own numbers acknowledge as much.

In fact, it will most likely make America weaker. Rich folks who earn a substantial portion of their income from investments would be faced with a doubling of their effective tax rate from fifteen to thirty percent. The Buffett Rule could result in a fast and furious selling spree with devastating results on the stock market.

The impact on middle class investors and folks living off of their pensions and IRAs could be devastating.

If my analysis seems flawed, I’d like to hear from you. But this whole Buffett Rule gambit seems like a political charade, class-warfare at its finest.

What does the president believe in? His re-election.

If it ruins America, tough.

No Comments

  1. Kurt Johnson on April 18, 2012 at 11:20 am

    The Buffet Rule tries to correct what appears to be an unfair situation. But, there are good reasons why we tax dividends and capital gains at lower rates.

    Below is a link to my blog that outlines a fairer way to tax dividends and capital gains.

    http://www.desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?category=PluckPersona&U=cca7a4e9fb5f48bdad36377f2fd76228&plckPersonaPage=BlogViewPost&plckUserId=cca7a4e9fb5f48bdad36377f2fd76228&plckPostId=Blog%3acca7a4e9fb5f48bdad36377f2fd76228Post%3a793b5846-efdd-4893-ad1f-d50b8a5ec83d&plckBlogItemsPerPage=5

  2. Bob on April 18, 2012 at 11:42 am

    Your analysis is right on the money, no pun intended.

    I was listening to Marketplace on NPR a couple of days ago, and they did a segment on taxpayers who actually pay more than they owe. I know, it’s hard to believe suckers like that exist, but they do. They interviewed a couple of them, and it was pathetic — these folks actually believed that what they were doing by overpaying their taxes would help bring down the deficit. Meanwhile, I’m thinking about all the wonderful charitable organizations they could have given that extra money to that would actually have done something good with it, and here these twits are sending it to the IRS to be flushed down the toilet. Depressing.

  3. Embattled Farmers on April 18, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    What needs to change is the “carried interest” loophole that allows salary earned in hedge funds and private equity to be taxed at capital gains rates rather than as the ordinary income that it is. This is shameful and both parties have been guilty of protecting their Wall Street donors. One of the worse offenders has been Dem. Chuck Schumer of New York, who of course gets a lot of $ from these people, but pretends to be a man of the people.

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