President Obama sought Wednesday to expand his push for the so-called Buffett Rule by highlighting its support among corporate chieftains and even Republicans.
Flanked by a group of millionaires and their secretaries, Obama hit for another consecutive day on themes of fairness and the need for this rule, which would see million dollar household subjected to a minimum effective tax rate of 30 percent.
“Most Americans agree with me, so do most millionaires. One survey found that two-thirds of millionaires support this idea. So do nearly half of all Republicans across America,” Obama said, speaking to an audience of millionaires and their secretaries, intended to personify Warren Buffett’s contention that millionaires should pay at least the same tax rates as their secretaries.
Obama also noted that the concept of closing tax loopholes used by the rich is historically not a strictly liberal idea and that Ronald Reagan -- whom Obama jokingly called a “wild-eyed, socialist, tax-hiking class warrior” for his support of the idea – called the loopholes “crazy.”
He mused about changing the rule’s nickname to the “Reagan Rule” if that might encourage more Republicans to support it.
While the president's remarks didn't include the heavy campaign optics of his speech yesterday in Florida on the same topic, the continued push for the rule still comes against a political backdrop. The Obama re-election campaign has used it to highlight Republican front-runner Mitt Romney's immense personal wealth, and they have demanded for a fuller release of Romney's past tax records.
Republicans have called the Buffett Rule a red herring, pointing to the fact that the law, if enacted, would only make a small dent in the deficit. Obama acknowledged that the rule would only raise about $47 billion over 10 years, but, he said, just because it doesn’t singlehandedly close the deficit doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be enacted.
"There are others who are saying, well, this is just a gimmick,” he said. “Well, I agree. That’s not all we have to do to close the deficit. But the notion that it doesn’t solve the entire problem doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do it at all.”