The New York Times reports that President Obama will propose the “Buffett Rule,” named after Warren E. Buffett, the billionaire investor who has complained repeatedly that the richest Americans generally pay a smaller share of their income in federal taxes than do middle-income workers because investment gains are taxed at a lower rate than wages. In response, GOP Congressman Paul Ryan argued on TV this morning:
“Class warfare . . . may make for really good politics, but it makes for rotten economics.”
Why is it “class warfare” when Democrats propose that middle class families be taxed at effective rates no higher than millionaires — but not “class warfare” when the GOP: (a) eviscerates the estate tax that benefits only the wealthiest Americans, (b) proposes the gradual elimination (through privatization) of Medicare and Social Security, (c) systematically makes it more difficult for poor and minorities to vote on the basis that allowing them to do so is like handing them “burglary tools,” and (d) injects into public debate the idea that the joblessness of poor people is due, not to the poor economy, but to their “depravity.” Here’s recently retired GOP Congressional staffer, Mike Lofgren, spilling the beans on his former colleagues:
Whatever else President Obama has accomplished (and many of his purported accomplishments are highly suspect), his $4-trillion deficit reduction package did perform the useful service of smoking out Republican hypocrisy. The GOP refused, because it could not abide so much as a one-tenth of one percent increase on the tax rates of the Walton family or the Koch brothers, much less a repeal of the carried interest rule that permits billionaire hedge fund managers to pay income tax at a lower effective rate than cops or nurses. Republicans finally settled on a deal that had far less deficit reduction – and even less spending reduction! – than Obama’s offer, because of their iron resolution to protect at all costs our society’s overclass.
Lofgren’s essay is the real deal.