Buffett Rule fails in the Senate
Despite the push from President Barack Obama, his campaign team, and Democrats, the 30% tax on millionaires — dubbed the “Buffett Rule” — unsurprisingly went down yesterday evening in the Senate:
The Senate rejected consideration Monday of the “Buffett rule ,” a key election-year Democratic initiative that would impose a minimum tax rate on those making more than $1 million per year, as a philosophical debate over taxes that will define this year’s elections occurred on Capitol Hill.
Democrats were unable to get the 60 votes necessary to break a filibuster and proceed to a full consideration of the measure, with the Senate voting 51 to 45 to move ahead. The vote was largely along party lines, although Republican Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) voted with Democrats to allow the measure to proceed and Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor (Ark.) voted to block it.
As noted above, it was mostly a party line vote, but if you want to see how your Senators voted you can view the roll call here.
Unfortunately, the vote doesn’t mean the end of this charade over tax hikes. We’ve noted before that the Buffett Rule wouldn’t have brought in much in terms of revenue, approximately $47 billion over 10 years — or just under $5 billion annually; less than half a day of spending. And that small amount of revenue would literally be nothing compared to the trillion dollar budget deficits we’ve seen coming out of Washington in recent years.
When that fact was pointed out, Democrats shifted their argument to “fairness.” Of course, this notion defies the fact that higher income earners already shoulder over 40% of the overall income tax burden while earning just under 31% of the total income.
Supporters of the Buffett Rule will point to polls that show Americans support the concept. That may be, however, support for higher taxes on higher income earners has been falling over the last 20 years. And it’s not exactly surprising that many Americans don’t find much sympathy with the rich; after all, they’re constantly scapegoats for populist politicians in Washington, who much rather blame someone else than accept responsibility for the mess they’ve created.
We’ll no doubt hear more about the Buffett Rule during the summer and fall, leading up to the general election. But at least for now, we have a temporary victory.