By Teresa Welsh |
The income gap between America’s top earners and the rest of the country has been growing since the 1970s, and one way the Obama administration has proposed to make the economic situation in America fairer is through the so-called “Buffett rule.” The rule is named after legendary billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who wrote in 2011 that he thought it was unfair that he pays a lower federal tax rate than his secretary does. The rule’s purpose is to raise federal tax rates on America’s richest people.
In February, Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse proposed the Paying a Fair Share Act of 2012. If enacted, the legislation would require taxpayers earning over $2 million to pay a 30 percent minimum federal tax rate. The tax would be gradually phased in for those who earn between $1 million and $2 million, with those taxpayers paying a portion of the extra tax required to get them to a 30 percent effective tax rate.
Proponents of the legislation argue that America’s top earners can afford to pay more in federal taxes and that the added revenue would help the American economy and strengthen public services for the poor and middle class. They maintain that the objective is to achieve more fairness in the tax code.
Opponents of the bill point out that the Buffett rule will not solve America’s financial crisis, and they say it would hardly put a dent in the massive federal deficit. They call the Buffett rule class warfare, and they argue that the proposed legislation is more of a campaign tactic than a solution to America’s burgeoning debt.
Should the “Buffett rule” become law? Here’s the Debate Club’s take:
Jason Fichtner Senior Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University
Chuck Collins Senior Scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies
Alan D. Viard Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute
Jonathan Collegio Communications Director for American Crossroads
Chuck Marr Director of Federal Tax Policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities