MILLER: Class envy campaign tactic

Buffett tax is a gimmick that divides Americans for political gain

President Obama flew Air Force One to Florida on Tuesday, bringing along the mobile White House entourage to call for a tax bill based on class envy. The Buffett rule is the highlight of his re-election routine, but the president should have saved our money by staying home. Lawmakers aren’t taking the bait.

“He can’t run on his record so he is coming down here to raise money - using taxpayers’ funds to do so - and again campaigning on ‘divide the American people,’ ” Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, Florida Republican, told reporters on a conference call.

The “official event” on the president’s schedule was a 74-minute speech at Florida Atlantic University on the Buffett tax, which was sandwiched between three big fundraisers. (At the $10,000 per ticket fundraiser in tony Palm Beach, Mr. Obama tailored his remarks to the wealthy audience, never mentioning his idea to raise their taxes). Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said that it’s “lucky for him he added in a public event so now we can all take a part in paying for these fundraisers that he’s conducting around Florida.”

By Mr. Priebus’s count, this is the 20th speech in which Mr. Obama has promoted the tax-hike idea since January. The administration’s rationale for the Buffett tax alternates regularly from arithmetic to morality to budget needs. “What’s the better way to make our economy stronger?” asked Mr. Obama. “Do we give another $150,000 in tax breaks to every millionaire and billionaire in the country? Or should we make investments in education and research and health care and our veterans?” This is false posturing.

The congressional Joint Committee on Taxation reported that the proposed tax rate of 30 percent on those who make over $1 million a year would result in new annual revenue of about $5 billion. The six-figure tax-cut claim is a fabrication; the House-passed budget keeps existing tax rates in place when they expire at the end of the year.

Mr. Obama also says raising taxes on the wealthy is a matter of fairness, but the top 1 percent of earners (those with income over $344,000) already pay an average 30 percent in federal taxes, according to a Congressional Budget Office report. The Berkshire Hathaway CEO claims to pay 17 percent because most of his income is from investments, but there’s no way to verify his claims without his tax returns.

Either way, his secretary, who he reportedly pays $60,000 a year, pays less, an average 14 percent. The misinformation just exposes the White House tax plan as a political gimmick that’s never intended to become law.

The White House doesn’t even pretend that Senate Democrats can muster the 60 votes needed for passage when it comes to the floor on April 16. Democrats are hoping angry taxpayers will blame the rich for having to send money to Washington on Tax Day.

April 17 this year also happens to be Tax Freedom Day, marking the point in the year when employees stop working to pay the IRS and start earning for themselves. Taxpayer ire is more properly directed at those who enlarged the federal government so much that Americans have to devote 107 days worth of their salaries to pay for it.

Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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