Congressional Delegation Jumps Behind Plan to Raise Taxes on the Rich
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Each member of Rhode Island’s Congressional Delegation is throwing his support behind the so-called “Buffett Rule” legislation that would raise taxes on millionaires.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse is the lead sponsor of the bill, which has earned its nickname because it has garnered support from billionaire Warren Buffett.
The legislation would apply only to taxpayers with income over $1 million – including capital gains and dividends. Taxpayers earning over $2 million would be subject to a 30 percent minimum federal tax rate. Whitehouse says the tax would be phased in for incomes 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.
“It’s time to give middle class families in Rhode Island and across the country the straight deal they deserve,” Whitehouse said in February “As we continue working to restore our economy, it’s more important than ever to make sure all Americans are paying their fair share toward our nation’s success – and right now that just isn’t happening. It’s inexcusable that our tax system permits ultra-high income earners to pay a lower tax rate than a truck driver or a janitor, and this legislation would help fix that unfair system.”
Reed: An Issue of Fairness
According to report released by the National Economic Council Tuesday, one out of every three of the 400 richest Americans paid less than 15 percent of their income in taxes in 2008. 85 percent of the 400 highest income households paid an effective rate of less than 30 percent.
In a speech delivered at Florida Atlantic University yesterday, President Obama said it’s time the richest Americans start paying the same percentage of income taxes as members of the middle class.
“In the next few weeks, we’re going to vote on something called the Buffett Rule -- very simple: If you make more than $1 million a year -- now, I’m not saying you have a million dollars -- right? I’m not saying you saved up all your money and you made smart investments and now you’ve got your nest egg and you’re preparing for retirement,” Obama said. “I’m saying, you’re bringing in a million bucks or more a year. Then, what the rule says is you should pay the same percentage of your income in taxes as middle-class families do.”
Senator Jack Reed said it all comes down to fairness.
“This is an issue of basic fairness,” he said. “There is a lot we can do to make the tax code better and the Buffet Rule is a step in that direction.”
Langevin & Cicilline Offer Support
Congressman James Langevin said any serious proposal to get the country’s fiscal house in order must acknowledge the need for a balanced approach of increased revenue and reduced spending.
“We are losing a huge amount of potential revenue through subsidies in the tax code that disproportionately benefit the wealthiest few,” Langevin said. “The fact that a multimillionaire can take advantage of these loopholes to pay a lower rate than a truck driver doesn’t make sense, and the Buffet rule addresses this inequity while reducing our deficit.”
The House is still divided over a Republican budget both Langevin and Congressman David Cicilline believe is too extreme. In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner last week, Cicilline said it is time to put aside partisan politics and support the Buffett Rule.
“As millions of middle class Americans struggle to make ends meet, and with the President calling on Congress to act, I believe we must put aside partisan differences and do the right thing for our country by considering this commonsense proposal,” Cicilline said. “I strongly urge you to take all necessary action to ensure that legislation instituting a ‘Buffett Rule’ is brought to a vote when the U.S. House of Representatives returns to session.”
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