Flanked by ardent supporter and multi-billionaire Warren Buffett, presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton said Wednesday she wants to go “even further” and tax the wealthy at even higher rates than those proposed by the Obama administration.
Mrs. Clinton, the Democratic party’s 2016 White House front-runner, said that she supports expanding the so-called “Buffett rule” beyond its current scope. The rule, named after Mr. Buffett, a renowned investor and one of the richest men in the country, would raise tax rates to 30 percent on all Americans making $1 million or more.
President Obama has consistently promoted the rule throughout his time in office, but it’s encountered stiff political opposition and has not been implemented.
Mrs. Clinton, sounding a confident note as the crucial Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses draw closer, said she would tax the wealthy at a rate greater than 30 percent, though she did not give specific numbers.
Before Mrs. Clinton took the stage at Wednesday’s campaign rally in Omaha, Nebraska, Mr. Buffett spoke about the growing gap between America’s wealthy and middle class. Mrs. Clinton hinted that taxing the wealthy is key to addressing that gap.
“I want to go even further, because Warren is 100 percent right, as usual,” she said. “I want to be the president for the struggling, the striving and the successful.”
Mrs. Clinton also called on fellow Democrats to reach out to Republicans and tell them that “I don’t have horns” — an appeal to moderate members of the GOP who may be hesitant to support a Democrat.
In addition to the rally, Mr. Buffett also hosted a private fundraiser for Mrs. Clinton on Wednesday, at which guests had to pony up $2,700 for the chance to have their picture taken with the duo.
Mr. Buffett also said he’d be “delighted” to see Mrs. Clinton become president, offering a strong stamp of approval but also adding new fuel to the narrative that the former secretary of state is too cozy with wealthy Americans to truly be a champion of the middle class.
As for her tax plan, Mrs. Clinton’s campaign says she’ll have more details after the new year. The total cost of Mrs. Clinton’s agenda has been estimated at about $1.2 trillion over 10 years, yet the tax increases she’s laid out thus far would only bring in about $800 billion.
Clinton campaign representatives told various media outlets Wednesday the new tax proposals are aimed at addressing that gap. Other Democratic presidential contenders, including Mrs. Clinton’s chief rival, Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders, also have yet to fully lay out the tax plans that would pay for their expansive liberal agendas.
Mrs. Clinton has promised to pay for her agenda without raising taxes on the middle class, and her campaign has directly attacked Mr. Sanders by suggesting his proposals would necessitate tax hikes on working families.
But neither candidate has explained exactly how they’d raise the money they need, and specialists say Democrats this election cycle have focused more intently on proposed spending increases while Republican presidential candidates have taken a very different tack.
“So far we’ve seen a lot more specific promises on the tax side from Republicans. … On the Democratic side, almost the opposite is true,” said Kyle Pomerleau, director of federal projects at the Tax Foundation.