- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 14, 2012

As millions of Americans prepare to file their tax returns, President Obama urged them Saturday to pressure Congress to raise taxes on the wealthy.

“If you make more than $1 million every year, you should pay at least the same percentage of your income in taxes as middle-class families do,” Mr. Obama said in his weekly address. “Most Americans support this idea. We just need some Republican politicians to get on board with where the country is.”

The Senate is scheduled to hold a test vote Monday on the so-called Buffett rule, which would impose a minimum 30 percent tax rate on income over $1 million. It’s named for billionaire Warren Buffett, who pays an effective tax rate less than that of his secretary due to certain loopholes in tax law.

The president didn’t mention it in his address Saturday, but he, too, pays a tax rate slightly lower than his secretary. Mr. Obama’s tax returns show that he paid an effective tax rate of 20.5 percent on income of about $800,000 in 2011.

Mr. Obama said the government needs the revenue from the Buffett rule, estimated at $47 billion over 10 years, to cover a broad range of goals.

“This is not just about fairness,” he said. “This is also about growth. It’s about being able to make the investments we need to strengthen our economy and create jobs. And it’s about whether we as a country are willing to pay for those investments.”

The measure is not expected to garner the necessary 60 votes in the Senate to proceed to a final vote, and it would face a certain dead end in the Republican-led House. The White House is trying to exert pressure on Republican lawmakers whom the administration believes are vulnerable in an election year.

Mr. Obama criticized the tax cuts passed under President George W. Bush as having led to a greater income divide and a weaker economy.

“In 2001 and 2003, the wealthiest Americans received two huge new tax cuts,” Mr. Obama said. “We were told these tax cuts would lead to faster job growth. Instead, we got the slowest job growth in half a century, and the typical American family actually saw its income fall. So we’ve tried this trickle-down experiment before. It doesn’t work.”

Online:

Obama address: http://www.whitehouse.gov

GOP address: http://www.youtube.com/HouseConference