- The Washington Times - Monday, April 9, 2012

The White House and President Obama’s re-election team launched a simultaneous offensive Monday to pressure Republican senators to approve the so-called “Buffett rule,” a tax increase on income over $1 million.

“The president supports that legislation and there’s going to be a vote in the Senate,” presidential spokesman Jay Carney said of a procedural vote scheduled for April 16. He added that the measure “has broad support across the country.”

At virtually the same hour that Mr. Carney spoke, Mr. Obama’s campaign manager sent an email to supporters urging them to “stand with President Obama in asking the richest Americans to pay their fair share.” The legislation would impose a minimum 30 percent tax on wealthier Americans.

“If you think that’s fair, then speak up for it before Congress votes next week,” Obama campaign manager Jim Messina told supporters. “Many Republicans are dead-set against this common-sense step, so the unfortunate reality is that next week’s vote may not go our way. But tax fairness is one of the defining issues in this election, and supporting this policy is one of the touchstones of this campaign.”

The Buffett rule is named for billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who has complained that his own tax rate is lower than his secretary’s.

Mr. Obama is scheduled to give a speech Tuesday in Boca Raton, Fla., calling on Congress to approve the measure. Vice President Joseph R. Biden will make another pitch for the bill Thursday during a campaign stop in Exeter, N.H., another battleground state.

The White House is targeting GOP senators in Florida, Ohio, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Iowa, North Carolina and Nevada — all swing states — as well as Tennessee, Massachusetts, Maine, Nebraska, Alaska and Indiana.

Democrats, 13 of whom have co-sponsored the bill, give the measure little chance of garnering the 60 votes needed to end debate on it and allow the Senate to proceed to a yes-no ballot.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, is calling the measure “yet another proposal from Democrats that won’t create a single job.”

Republicans are pointing to last week’s disappointing jobs report for March as another reason not to raise taxes on wealthier Americans.

But Democrats relish the prospect of putting freshman GOP senators such as Scott P. Brown of Massachusetts and Dean Heller of Nevada on the record on the subject.

“That’s what votes do; they put senators on record,” Mr. Carney said, adding that the White House hopes some GOP lawmakers “will rethink their position.”

And the Obama campaign team also wants to highlight its differences with presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who paid an effective tax rate of 13.9 percent in 2010 on income of $21.7 million.

Although the president portrays the tax increase as a necessary ingredient of deficit reduction, it would raise an estimated $47 billion over the next decade — less than 1 percent of the $6.4 trillion in deficits projected under Mr. Obama’s own budget forecasts.