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Sen. Whitehouse Continues Push to Raise Taxes on Wealthy

Friday, November 30, 2012


As President Obama and Congressional leaders continue discussions to avert the so-called “fiscal cliff” – the mix of tax increases and spending cuts set to automatically take effect in January – two prominent Congressional Democrats are calling on the President to include a version of the Buffett Rule for tax fairness in any deal. U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Senator-elect Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) on Thursday sent a letter to President Obama urging him to fight for the Paying a Fair Share Act, which would implement the Buffett Rule, during the negotiations.

“In addition to letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire for incomes above $250,000 as you have pledged to do, we believe it is imperative to enact a safeguard to ensure that the highest-earning Americans cannot subvert the progressivity of the tax code through loopholes and special rates not available to middle-class families,” Whitehouse and Baldwin wrote. “We once again urge you to champion the ‘Buffett Rule’ in your negotiations and stand ready to assist you in any way we can.”

The Paying a Fair Share Act was first introduced by Whitehouse in the Senate earlier this year. Baldwin introduced the companion legislation in the House of Representatives. The bill would make sure multi-million-dollar earners pay a minimum tax rate of 30 percent. In addition to restoring fairness to the tax code, the bill would generate $47 billion in new revenue over the next decade according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. In April, 51 Senators voted in favor of advancing the measure, but it was blocked by a Republican filibuster.

“It is inexcusable that a multi-million-dollar earner can pay a lower tax rate than a Rhode Island truck driver,” Whitehouse said at the time. “Today’s vote on the Paying a Fair Share Act took us one step closer to ensuring that middle-class families across the country get the straight deal they deserve. Although we were unable to break the Republican filibuster, a majority of the United States Senate has gone on the record in favor of greater fairness in our tax code. I’ll keep fighting to make the Buffett Rule law.”

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 and the tax would be phased in for incomes between $1 million and $2 million.


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