President Obama focused his weekly radio and Internet address on urging Congress to increase taxes on millionaires and billionaires, renewing his proposal to enact the so-called Buffet Rule – although it has little chance of passing in a heated election year.
The Buffett Rule plan, scheduled for a vote in the Democratic-controlled Senate April 16, is named after billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who has been quoted extensively as bemoaning that his secretary pays taxes at a higher rate than he does.
Many wealthy Americans – including Buffett and GOP front-runner Mitt Romney – earn primarily investment income, which is taxed at 15 percent.
The top nominal rate for taxpayers with high incomes from non-investment wages is 35 percent.
Obama proposes that those earning at least $1 million annually — whether in salary or investments — should pay at least 30 percent of their income in taxes.
“Today, the wealthiest Americans are paying taxes at one of the lowest rates in 50 years,” Obama said. “Warren Buffett is paying a lower rate than his secretary. Meanwhile, over the last 30 years, the tax rates for middle class families have barely budged.”
The issue of taxes on the wealthiest Americans is a heated one in this presidential election cycle, as it was four years ago.
Obama is drawing a sharp line between him and Romney, whom Democrats are not shy of characterizing as a wealthy businessman out of touch with middle-class Americans.
“If you make more than $1 million a year, you should pay at least the same percentage of your income in taxes as middle class families do,” Obama said. “If you make under $250,000 a year – like 98 percent of American families do – your taxes shouldn’t go up. You’re the ones struggling with the rising cost of everything from college tuition to groceries. You’re the ones who deserve a break.”