President Obama released his deficit-reduction plan Monday and already both sides of the aisle have found things to criticize in it. Ken Walsh reports that both centrist Democrats and even progressive liberals are skeptical of some of Obama's proposals. Their doubts, however, pale in comparison to the attacks Republicans launched on the plan.
The biggest target for conservative critics is the so called "Buffett Rule" which would raise taxes on high income earners. Opponents of the proposal accuse Obama of engaging in class warfare and assert that such tax hikes would hurt job creators and increase unemployment. Obama is now appealing to the American people directly, hoping to win their "hearts and minds," as he told guests at a fundraiser Monday night, in what will surely be another vicious Washington battle, judging by the summer's debt ceiling showdown.
At the heart of the debate—and what Obama is betting on in this political gamble—is whether the richest Americans pay enough in taxes. In August, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett wrote a New York Times op-ed arguing that millionaires and billionaires should be taxed more, as he was paying taxes at a lower rate than his secretary. Buffett's newest employee at Berkshire, the mega-rich hedge fund manager Ted Weschler, also welcomes increased taxes. In fact, in taking the job with the company, he is taking both a pay cut from and a tax hike, now paying 35 percent on his income as Buffett's employee rather than the 15 percent he paid on the capital gains he made at his hedge fund. Even those who criticize the Buffett Rule are seeing their attacks backfire, such as Republican Rep. John Fleming, who caught major flack after complaining about only having $400,000 left over after taxes, business expenses, and taking care of his family, from the $6 million his business makes.
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Previously: Are Obama's Proposed Tax Hikes 'Class Warfare'?