There he goes again. President Obama, for the second day in a row, has invoked the name of Ronald Reagan to argue for the administration's proposal to raise taxes on the rich. And the gambit has Republicans steamed.
"President Ronald Reagan believed in freedom, opportunity and policies that get the government out of the way so the private sector can grow and create jobs," says Michael Steel, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner. "Trying to cloak the silly 'Buffett tax' proposal in his legacy is pathetic."
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell says Obama's comment on Reagan amounted to a "political event that won't take a single person off the unemployment line."
But Democratic strategists say the concept of raising taxes on the rich is a political winner, and Obama shows no sign of backing off.
"I'm not the first president to call for this idea that everybody has got to do their fair share," Obama said Wednesday in Washington. "Some years ago, one of my predecessors traveled across the country pushing for the same concept. He gave a speech where he talked about a letter he had received from a wealthy executive who paid lower tax rates than his secretary, and wanted to come to Washington and tell Congress that was wrong. So this president gave another speech where he said it was 'crazy'--that's a quote--that certain tax loopholes make it possible for multimillionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying 10 percent of his salary. That wild-eyed, socialist, tax-hiking class warrior was Ronald Reagan."
[Read What the Buffett Rule Gets Wrong.]
"He thought that, in America, the wealthiest should pay their fair share, and he said so," Obama noted, as several millionaires and their assistants stood behind him. "I know that position might disqualify him from the Republican primaries these days, but what Ronald Reagan was calling for then is the same thing that we're calling for now: a return to basic fairness and responsibility; everybody doing their part. And if it will help convince folks in Congress to make the right choice; we could call it the Reagan Rule instead of the Buffett Rule."
Obama was referring to the billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who has pointed out that he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. Obama says that isn't fair so he is backing legislation in Congress to require that the rich pay at least 30 per cent of their income in federal taxes.