President Obama today invoked the greatest hero of the conservative movement in calling for Congress to pass his tax-raising “Buffett Rule,” saying that the measure could be renamed the “Reagan Rule.”
Obama, who spoke this morning at the White House, taunted conservatives as extremists who have strayed even from Ronald Reagan in opposing the Buffett Rule, which puts a floor under millionaires’ taxers and was inspired by Buffett’s comment that he had paid a lower tax rate than his secretary.
Obama noted that Reagan had once expressed outrage over a millionaire paying a lower rate than a bus driver. Obama said:
That wild eyed, socialist, tax-hiking class warrior was Ronald Reagan . . . If it will help convince folks in Congress to make the right choice, we could call it the Reagan Rule instead of the Buffett Rule.
But Reagan at the time was calling for Congress to close tax loopholes and was campaigning for passage of the 1986 tax reform act, which was designed to be revenue neutral. In exchange for taking away the loopholes, the law, which Reagan ended up signing, lowered the top federal income tax rate for the wealthiest from 50 percent to 28 percent.
By contrast, Obama’s Buffett Rule would raise taxes, mandating that millionaires pay a minimum tax rate of 30 percent. This would raise taxes for some, especially those whose earnings are largely derived from investments taxed a lower rate than income.