Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Buffet Rule

President Obama's new project--passing the Buffet Rule--doesn't have much hope of getting through Congress anytime soon. And maybe this was part of the appeal: it sets each party out on clearly conflicting sides of a contentious political issue to give voters a clear choice in November. The Rule, which would create a minimum tax of 30% on individuals earning at least one million dollars a year, has strong popular support. A recent Gallup poll shows that 60% of Americans agree with the proposal. This kind of popular support for such a contentious issue is amazing. How are the Republicans going to keep from coming out on the wrong side of this? Well, they have to characterize it as a "distraction" from more compelling issues that will actually make the economy grow again.

The real question is whether this issue is symbolic of a deeper policy divide between the political parties. At least previously gridlock was fostered by a public that seemed equally split (or at least equally apathetic) about competing policy positions. Now it seems that one side has to respond with whatever arguments it can to stop the other side from gaining any political points. I just can't see how this is effective representation or any form of good policy-making. Can't we agree that if 60% of Americans are in favor of something it has some merit? If this many Americans support it, don't we get to a point where we can't just dismiss it is a tempting distraction anymore? Or maybe this is what we want: politicians standing on principle even when it is wildly unpopular.


  1. 60% of Americans in favor of something should definitely have some merit. I think you are spot on in a Republican response that tries to put forth more convincing alternatives to grow the economy. But will we ever see a “convincing” response? I don’t think so. Rather, both sides will continue the tit for tat political game as we are already seeing with the Republican response to propose a 20% tax cut on small businesses.

    One thing that I disagree with you on is your classification of the Buffett Rule as a “distraction.” I would omit the quotations. In terms of the big picture, it really doesn’t do much in terms of raising revenue (See: Obama labels it as a fairness issue, but does the Buffett Rule really improve our country that much? Think of all of the political capital invested and continuing to be invested in this rule. I can’t say I blame Liberals for hopping on the Buffet Rule bandwagon because it is an election year and the majority of Americans seem to support it. I just find it discouraging because I feel that it really doesn't get us anywhere in terms of the big issues that are going to come crashing down on us in the near future (namely the debt).

  2. Hmm...I think you're right that it may not do much for the country economically, but I'd hesitate to say that making the tax code fairer doesn't really do anything for the country. You might be right, however, that right now what we really need is something that will contribute to economic growth.