Debate Club

We Need a Tax Code That Better Fits the Values of the Country

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The "Buffett rule" would make our tax system fairer.

Warren Buffett rightly said it's wrong that he and many other very wealthy people pay taxes at a lower rate than many middle-class Americans. Americans have long agreed that higher-income people should pay a larger share of their incomes in tax. Today's tax code, however, too often violates this principle: 21 percent of millionaires—about 50,000 people—pay a smaller share of their incomes in federal taxes than 3 million people making between $50,000 and $100,000, according to the National Economic Council.

[See acollection of political cartoons on the economy.]

Congress should enact the "Buffett rule" as a first step toward making our tax system both fairer and better able to raise the revenue the country needs.

Now is the perfect time. A startling share of the gains of economic growth in recent years have flowed to the top sliver of the population, while middle-income paychecks have stagnated. Also, tax rates on the top 1 percent of taxpayers have dropped by about a third since 1980.

Looking ahead, we need to rein in long-term deficits, which will require budget cuts that could affect a range of areas—from healthcare to national defense, border security, and transportation. But trying to address long-term deficits entirely through spending cuts would weaken this nation and make it harder to nurture the next generation of Warren Buffetts.

Simply put, we need more revenue and should begin by raising more from the people best able to afford it.

[Read How the 'Buffett Rule' Helps the Economy.]

That means, as a first step, moving forward on the Buffett rule, letting President Bush's tax cuts exclusively for high-income people expire on schedule at the end of the year, and scaling back costly tax loopholes that mostly benefit the wealthy. That would be important progress toward a tax code that better fits the values of the country.

Chuck Marr

About Chuck Marr Director of Federal Tax Policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Tags
deficit and national debt
federal taxes

Other Arguments

#1
208 Pts
Reducing Spending, Not Taxing Millionaires, Is a Real Solution

No – Reducing Spending, Not Taxing Millionaires, Is a Real Solution

Jason Fichtner Senior Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University

#2
-4 Pts
The 'Buffett Rule' Moves Us in the Right Direction

Yes – The 'Buffett Rule' Moves Us in the Right Direction

Chuck Collins Senior Scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies

#3
-6 Pts
'Buffett Rule' Not a Serious Response to Budgetary Problems

No – 'Buffett Rule' Not a Serious Response to Budgetary Problems

Alan D. Viard Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute

#4
-14 Pts
The 'Buffett Rule' Is Bogus

No – The 'Buffett Rule' Is Bogus

Andrew Moylan Vice President of Government Affairs for the National Taxpayers Union

#5
-24 Pts
'Buffet Rule' is a Good Start

Yes – 'Buffet Rule' is a Good Start

Isabel Sawhill Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution

#6
-26 Pts
Tax Dollars and (Common) Sense

Yes – Tax Dollars and (Common) Sense

Tammy Baldwin U.S. Representative

#7
-28 Pts
The 'Buffet Rule' Is a Hypocritical Political Ploy

No – The 'Buffet Rule' Is a Hypocritical Political Ploy

Jonathan Collegio Communications Director for American Crossroads

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