"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Obama Under Fire For Buffet Tax: “Total Gimmickry,” “A Cynical Ploy,” “Nothing More Than A Smoke Screen”

April 13th, 2012 by Mark Truman · No Comments

President Obama is taking more and more criticism over the gimmicky tax hike, the Buffett Tax, he’s been pushing all week. Of course, the tax would barely make a dent in the massive Obama deficits, will do absolutely nothing to help with high gas prices and certainly “won’t get you a job,” as a National Journal analysis piece declared. But today, more observers are calling out the president for how his Buffett Tax is far more politics than substance.

In a blistering column, The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, certainly not someone considered a conservative flatly declares the Buffett Tax “a gimmick.” He writes, “President Obama admits it: His proposed ‘Buffett Rule’ tax on millionaires is a gimmick. ‘There are others who are saying: “Well, this is just a gimmick. Just taxing millionaires and billionaires, just imposing the Buffett Rule, won’t do enough to close the deficit,”’ Obama declared Wednesday. ‘Well, I agree.’ Actually, the gimmick was apparent even without the president’s acknowledgment. He gave his remarks in a room in the White House complex adorned with campaign-style photos of his factory tours. On stage with him were eight props: four millionaires, each paired with a middle-class assistant. . . . And if that’s not enough evidence of gimmickry, after his speech Obama’s reelection campaign unveiled an online tax calculator ‘to see how your tax rate stacks up against Mitt Romney’s — and then see what the Buffett Rule would do.’”

Appearing on MSNBC this morning, Politico’s Jim VandeHei didn’t mince words: “It’s total gimmickry. It’s 1% of what you need to actually take care of the deficit. There’s a big danger for President Obama in that they become so insanely political in an insanely political culture. Almost everything they do now is … targeted at a very specific subset of voters that they want to win.”

In a must-read column today, Charles Krauthammer lays out just why President Obama’s Buffett Tax proposal that the Senate will be voting on on Monday is so unserious and gimmicky.

“Let’s do the math,” Krauthammer writes. “The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates this new tax would yield between $4 billion and $5 billion a year. If we collect the Buffett tax for the next 250 years — a span longer than the life of this republic — it would not cover the Obama deficit for 2011 alone. As an approach to our mountain of debt, the Buffett Rule is a farce.”

Further, he explains, “It’s a substitute for tax reform, an evasion of tax reform. In three years, Obama hasn’t touched tax (or, for that matter, entitlement) reform, and clearly has no intention to. The Buffett Rule is nothing but a form of redistributionism that has vanishingly little to do with debt reduction and everything to do with reelection.” Krauthammer notes, “It perfectly pits the 99 percent against the 1 percent. Indeed, it is OWS translated into legislation, something the actual occupiers never had the wit to come up with.

Clever politics, but in terms of economics, it’s worse than useless.”

Yesterday’s Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel elaborated on Krauthammer’s point: “The Buffett Rule would raise less than $50 billion over 10 years – a drop in the bucket that would do little to solve the nation’s long-term problem with red ink. And targeting taxpayers who make most of their income from investments, as the Buffett Rule appears to do, risks discouraging investment at a time when such money flows are critical to providing capital to growing companies that create jobs. On the contrary, the government ought to be encouraging investment: It’s how businesses grow and jobs are created. For individuals, investing is the path to economic security. And there is this little matter: The money invested already has been taxed once before at the marginal rates. The Buffett Rule also would make the tax code more complicated.”

Meanwhile, National Journal reports today, “President Obama earned $789,674 in 2011, the White House announced on Friday. However, with this income, he does not even qualify for the so-called Buffett Rule that he has promoted relentlessly and the Senate will take up on Monday.”

As Krauthammer concludes, “The [Buffett Tax] enterprise is an exercise in misdirection — a distraction not just from Obama’s dismal record on growth and unemployment but, more important, from his dereliction of duty in failing to this day to address the utterly predictable and devastating debt crisis ahead.”

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