Americans don’t want to borrow more money and pay higher taxes simply to create temporary government jobs. That’s why President Obama’s $467 billion second stimulus bill never had much of a chance as a whole. It was meant to be a class-warfare call-to-arms that would engage and excite his liberal base, as even the Democratic-controlled Senate couldn’t conjure up the votes for it.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Thursday made it clear Democrats intend to exploit the failed vote as a way to create a steady drumbeat passing the blame for joblessness onto the GOP. “We will not stop working to pass the proposals contained in the American Jobs Act just because Republicans use every obstructionist trick in the book,” the Nevada Democrat said on the floor.
Mr. Obama was unbowed when speaking to Latino supporters on Wednesday night, saying, “I know some folks in Congress blocked this jobs bill because of how it’s paid for. … We can’t just cut without asking those of us who’ve been most fortunate in our society to pay our fair share.”
Mr. Obama’s ally in the “fair share” department - mega-investor Warren Buffett - continues his campaign to raise more money for Washington politicians through higher taxes on “millionaires and billionaires.” The Berkshire Hathaway CEO is selling this concept by claiming he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.
Rep. Tim Huelskamp asked Mr. Buffett to prove it by releasing his tax returns, and Mr. Buffett responded Tuesday by refusing to do so unless other rich people like News Corp. founder Rupert Murdoch release their forms simultaneously.
Mr. Huelskamp isn’t taking the rebuff. “I still think it’s important to see his claim because there’s not another of the so-called 400 super-wealthy who have a tax rule proposed that’s named after them,” the Kansas Republican told The Washington Times.
Mr. Huelskamp feels that the billionaire’s letter is a distraction from the real issue: too much spending. “Even if we double taxes on the rich, that covers about two days’ worth of spending,” he said. “What are you going to do with the other 363 days?”
The Oracle of Omaha claimed he earned $62.9 million in 2010 but paid taxes on his adjusted gross income of $39.8 million. As Mr. Huelskamp points out, “Mr. Buffett shelters $30 million, it seems, by giving it away to charitable organizations rather than give it to Barack Obama. He shows with these actions that he doesn’t trust Washington with his money.”
Mr. Buffett also wrote that his secretary, who makes $60,000 a year, pays over 30 percent of her income in taxes. The Internal Revenue Service reports the average tax rate for someone making that amount is 11.6 percent. Even adding on payroll taxes, she isn’t paying anywhere near 30 percent.
The simple fact is the middle class isn’t paying higher tax rates than the wealthy. The billionaire and his favorite community organizer are simply looking to stir up the base so they will turn out in force for the next election. It’s a shame Mr. Obama’s focus for the next year is campaigning for his own job instead of helping the 9.1 percent unemployed find useful work in the private sector.
Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.