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Politico: “Moderate Dems Duck, Cover On Hikes”; Press Fact Checks Find “The Entire Buffett Rule Premise Is False”‏ | Missouri Political News Service

Politico: “Moderate Dems Duck, Cover On Hikes”; Press Fact Checks Find “The Entire Buffett Rule Premise Is False”‏

September 20th, 2011 by mopns · No Comments

Politico reports today, “Liberals on Monday cheered President Barack Obama’s plan to hike taxes on the wealthy to cut the deficit. But the response from Democrats on the front lines of 2012 election battles? Silence. Or, at best, tepid enthusiasm. Centrist Democrats, a dwindling breed on Capitol Hill, were quickly faced with another rough choice once Obama went public with his plans: Reject their president or back what Republicans are already calling the largest tax increase in the nation’s history.”

Politico notes, “Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, who is up for reelection in 2012, has supported raising taxes on millionaires but was still weighing whether he’d support higher taxes on those who make more than $200,000 a year, said spokesman Dan McLaughlin. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), a key moderate who’s up for reelection next year, didn’t mince words: ‘There’s too much discussion about raising taxes right now, not enough focus on cutting spending.’ But Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), who likely will face GOP Rep. Denny Rehberg in next year’s reelection bid, hedged a bit, saying he backs provisions in Obama’s plan that call for closing tax loopholes that benefit millionaires and corporations. ‘This plan isn’t the one I would have written, nor is it the one that will end up passing Congress,’ Tester said. ‘But I welcome all ideas to the table so Congress can work together to create jobs, cut debt and cut spending.’”

But though President Obama’s tax hike proposals have warmed liberal hearts, even some liberal Democrat senators aren’t fully on board. CBS New York reported last night, “Senators Charles Schumer of New York, Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey all support the millionaire’s tax. [But] Schumer said the $250,000 limit is unacceptable since it will hit the [New York] metropolitan area disproportionately because of the high cost of living here. ‘$250,000 makes you really rich in Mississippi but it doesn’t make you rich at all in New York and there ought to be some kind of scale based on the cost of living on how much you pay,’ Schumer said.” And according to Politico, “Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), who is up for reelection next year, told POLITICO Obama’s deficit proposal complements the jobs plan he submitted to Congress last week. But Cardin still had one bone to pick: He doesn’t like Obama’s proposal requiring federal workers to contribute more to their pension plans.”

Meanwhile, news outlets are examining the anecdote behind the calls from the president and some Democrats for the so-called “Warren Buffett tax,” and finding little basis in fact. The AP writes, “President Barack Obama makes it sound as if there are millionaires all over America paying taxes at lower rates than their secretaries. . . . The data tell a different story. On average, the wealthiest people in America pay a lot more taxes than the middle class or the poor, according to private and government data. They pay at a higher rate, and as a group, they contribute a much larger share of the overall taxes collected by the federal government.” ABC News reports, “Treasury Secretary Geithner yesterday declined to answer a key question about the president’s proposed ‘Buffett Rule’:  How many millionaires and billionaires pay lower tax rates than middle-income families? The answer appears to be this:  not many. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has crunched the numbers and found that Warren Buffett and his secretary are the exception to the rule.  For the most part, the wealthy pay a significantly higher percentage of their income in taxes than middle-income workers.” And The Wall Street Journal editorializes, “There’s one small problem: The entire Buffett Rule premise is false . . . . [N]early all millionaires still paid a rate that is more than twice the 8.9% average rate paid by those earning between $50,000 and $100,000, and more than three times the 7.2% average rate paid by those earning less than $50,000. The larger point is that the claim that CEOs are routinely paying lower tax rates than their secretaries is Omaha hokum.”

The WSJ editors think they see what’s really going on with the president’s proposal. They write, “We rehearse all of this because it shows that the real point of Mr. Obama’s Buffett Rule and his latest deficit proposal isn’t tax justice or good tax policy. It is all about re-election politics.” And even NBC News’ First Read newsletter points out, “[W]ith some 14 months until Election Day 2012, Obama’s speech yesterday essentially marked the end of the governing season and the beginning of the campaign. White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer admitted as much to the New York Times. ‘The popular narrative is that we sought compromise in a quixotic quest for independent votes. We sought out compromise because a failure to get funding of the government last spring and then an extension of the debt ceiling in August would have been very bad for the economy and for the country.’ Pfeiffer added, ‘We were in a position of legislative compromise by necessity. That phase is behind us.’”

As deficit committee member Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) said yesterday, “I am concerned that [the president’s] deficit reduction strategy sometimes seems more defined by political posturing, such as recycling tax hikes that even lawmakers in his own party have publicly opposed. With the Select Committee’s deadline looming, we do not have time to waste on political games and pushing big tax increases that will only make our economy weaker for all Americans.”


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