The Reagan Rule

In one breath, they scream, “Class warfare! Class warfare!” In the next, “It’s statistically insignificant!” Well, which is it? They can’t have it both ways. The they to which I refer, is the ever-duplicitous and incessantly histrionic Republican Party. The it, is the Buffett Rule. If it is truly insignificant, then how can it be considered class warfare? As it turns out, it’s neither (for real class warfare, see Paul Ryan’s recent budget and my 3/26/12 post, Is the GOP Morally Bankrupt?). Of course, being misled by a disingenuous GOP is nothing new. These are, after all, the same folks who deride the Affordable Care Act as socialism and a “complete government take-over of healthcare,” when anyone with a double-digit IQ can clearly see that ObamaCares is a boon to the private-sector (insurance companies to be specific…Not that there is anything wrong with that!).

For those of you who have been living under a rock for the last several months, or perhaps just don’t give a shit (no judgment), the Buffett Rule is a progressive tax proposal coined and devised by President Obama and the Democrats that would make wealthy folks pay the same rate of income tax, that, for instance, their secretaries would pay. Specifically, the top 1% of income earners in the U.S., with annual earnings in excess of $1,000,000, would be taxed at a rate of 30%. Since the estimates of what the rule would actually yield in revenue are wildly varied from $47 billion to $300 billion over ten years, and contingent upon whether the Bush Tax Cuts expire or upon which argument the GOP is basing their hyperbole at any given moment, the truth remains to be seen.

A recent Gallup poll revealed that 60% of Americans support the Buffett Rule and want high income earners to pay their fair share of taxes. Predictably, the GOP is in vehement opposition to the proposal. The truth of their opposition, which is thinly veiled under the guise of not wanting to raise taxes on job creators, is very simple: the Republican Party is concerned only with the welfare of the wealthy, and of big corporationsthe 99% be damned! To further characterize it, the Republicans will endlessly fight tooth and nail to keep themselves and their uber-wealthy brethren from absorbing a historically fair tax increase. Although identifying the GOP’s motives and constituency in such stark terms might be a hackneyed notion, it is worth repeating over and over and over again. And if their argument about hindering job growth had any validity at all, the data of job creation over the last ten years (since the Bush Tax Cuts), which of course was dismal, would bear that out. In addition, job creation went through the roof during theClinton years, when the top earners paid at least 30%.

Sometime today, the Senate will vote on the Buffet Rule, also known as the Pay a Fair Share Act of 2012.  And, sometime today, the bill will go down in defeat because the requisite sixty vote threshold to prevent a Republican filibuster is impossible to reach without Republican support. In a humorously transparent attempt to motivate GOP Senators to support the initiative or to at least allow it to have an up or down vote, the President pandered, “And if it will help convince folks to make the right choice, we could call it the Reagan Rule instead of the Buffett Rule.” Reagan taxed the 1% at a 28.4% rate, which is similar to the 30% rate the Buffet Rule proposes. In fact, the difference is statistically insignificant. 


  1. Capital gains are a sacred cow of Republican politics…for obvious reasons. And of course this plays right into the “no new taxes = more personal freedom” lie propagated by the GOP. I would like to see a simplified tax code that is equally progressive, but I’ll take this as a first step towards fairer taxes. It’s funny how Romney and others are claiming this would kill jobs by impacting small businesses…when in reality less than 1% of small businesses would be affected. There’s that 1% again. When will this oligarchy end, I wonder?


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