In 2008 and 2012 Barack Obama campaigned on a promise to bring balance to our tax code by asking the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share: watch how he kept his promise.
Even if just one of the 400 wealthiest Americans paid their fair share in taxes under President Obama’s Buffett Rule, it would raise $32 million in revenue. That money could be used to pay down our national deficit, hire more teachers and firefighters, help seniors pay for their prescriptions, and better serve our veterans. Use the Buffett Rule tax calculator to do the math for yourself.
President Obama met with some of America’s most successful businesspeople and entrepreneurs—all millionaires—to talk taxes this morning.
They came to the White House to show their support for the Buffett Rule, a bill up for a vote in Congress next week that would make sure the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share in taxes. Noting that two-thirds of America’s millionaires support the Buffett Rule, the President said:
“The people who have joined me here today are extremely successful. They’ve created jobs and opportunity for thousands of Americans. They’re rightly proud of their success. They love the country that made their success possible, and most importantly, they want to make sure that the next generation, people coming up behind them, have the same opportunities that they had.
“They understand, though, that for some time now, when compared to the middle class, they haven’t been asked to do their fair share. And they are here because they believe there is something deeply wrong and irresponsible about that.
“Now, it’s not that these folks are excited about the idea of paying more taxes … In a perfect world, none of us would have to pay any taxes. We’d have no deficits to pay down. And schools and bridges and roads and national defense and caring for our veterans would all happen magically.
“And it would be nice if we didn’t have to pay for them, but this is the real world that we live in. We have real choices and real consequences. Right now, we’ve got significant deficits that are going to have to be closed. Right now, we have significant needs if we want to continue to grow this economy and compete in this 21st-century, hyper-competitive, technologically integrated economy. That means we can’t afford to keep spending more money on tax cuts for wealthy Americans who don’t need them and weren’t even asking for them. And it’s time we did something about it” President Obama said.
Nearly one-quarter of all millionaires (about 55,000 individuals) pay a lower tax rate than millions of middle-class families. Warren Buffett has famously said that he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary, and he agrees that isn’t fair. To reform our tax system, which is currently tilted in favor of very high-income households, President Obama has proposed a basic principle of tax fairness called the Buffett Rule.
And, using the average tax rate to tell the story actually, like in the chart above, masks the fact that some high-income Americans pay extraordinarily low tax rates. A full 22,000 households that made more than $1 million in 2009 paid less than 15 percent of their income in income taxes. And the top 400 richest Americans—all making over $110 million a year—paid an average of 18 percent of their income in income taxes in 2008, but one in three of them paid less than 15 percent.
It is these high‐income taxpayers that the Buffett Rule is meant to address by limiting the degree to which they can take advantage of loopholes and tax expenditures. For middle class families making less than $250,000 a year—families for whom tax rates have barely budged in the last 50 years—taxes should not go up.
Think that’s unfair? So does Warren Buffett.
Right now, millionaires and billionaires have nearly the lowest tax rates they’ve had in 50 years, while everyone else picks up the tab.
So President Obama is asking Congress to pass a common-sense bill, known as the Buffett Rule, to fix the tax code and make sure that millionaires and billionaires pay at least the same share of their income in taxes as middle-class families.
The Buffett Rule would reduce the deficit while helping to pay for investments in education, clean energy, jobs, and other programs that will help our economy grow.
Many Republicans are dead-set against this common-sense step, so the unfortunate reality is that next week’s vote may not go our way.
But tax fairness is one of the defining issues in this election, and supporting this policy is one of the touchstones of this campaign.
Not only does Mitt Romney oppose the Buffett Rule, but he wants to protect special breaks and loopholes that help wealthy Americans like himself avoid paying their fair share—and he wants to shower them with even more tax breaks paid for by middle-class families and seniors.
If that’s not the kind of country you want to see for the next four years, do something about it now.
Join President Obama in urging Congress to pass the Buffett Rule.
With the Senate expected to vote on President Obama’s Buffett Rule next week, the President’s campaign just launched a new website with all the tools you need to understand this common-sense legislation.
The Buffett Rule would ensure that millionaires never again pay a lower tax rate than middle-class families. Find out how the Buffett Rule would help us invest in the future of the middle class, who’s already on board with the idea, and why President Obama is the only candidate standing for tax fairness. Take a few minutes to explore the site—then ask your friends and family to support the Buffett Rule.
Loopholes in the tax code mean that most millionaires pay a lower tax rate than the typical rate paid by middle-class families earning less than $100,000. That means Warren Buffett—a millionaire many times over who does not need and isn’t even asking for a tax break—pays a lower rate in taxes than his secretary. And our country is about to spend another $700 billion on an extended tax break for the wealthiest 2 percent.
Here’s what the President said about our tax code in his State of the Union last week:
“We don’t begrudge financial success in this country. We admire it. When Americans talk about folks like me paying my fair share of taxes, it’s not because they envy the rich. It’s because they understand that when I get a tax break I don’t need and the country can’t afford, it either adds to the deficit, or somebody else has to make up the difference—like a senior on a fixed income, or a student trying to get through school, or a family trying to make ends meet. That’s not right. Americans know that’s not right.”
The President is calling on Congress to make the tax code fairer and simpler by immediately passing a permanent payroll tax extension for middle-class families while asking millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share.
If you think this should be a priority during this campaign, it’s up to you to speak out. Support the President and spread the word.