By Paul J. Nyden
Sen. Joe Manchin said Monday he voted in favor of the so-called "Buffett Rule" because he believes it would make the tax code fairer.
Manchin, D-W.Va., voted in favor of the rule, which would set a minimum tax rate of 30 percent on people earning more than $1 million a year. The Senate defeated the bill late Monday, which is formally called the Paying a Fair Share Act.
Only Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., crossed party lines on the largely symbolic vote, leaving Democrats short of the 60 votes needed to advance it.
"I have been totally committed to revamping our tax code to put fairness into it and so everyone is playing by the same rules," Manchin said during a telephone interview Monday.
Warren Buffett, one of the richest individuals in the world, has repeatedly said people like himself should not have lower tax rates than their secretaries.
"I agree wholeheartedly with the Buffett Rule. But because of the politics we have in Washington, it will probably not pass," Manchin said.
"But people are speaking loud and clear, saying, 'We want fairness in the system.'"
Manchin said people on both the left and right ends of the political spectrum are upset about taxes.
"The Occupy Group says this is a great country, a prosperous country, but one that leaves 99 percent behind. The tea party says we [the government] are spending too much money. They are right too. We are spending money we don't have," Manchin said.
"Today, people have a perception that if you are wealthy enough, or connected enough, you get special privileges."
After being elected as senator in November 2010, Manchin has repeatedly questioned allowing U.S. corporations to establish headquarters in other countries, such as the Cayman Islands, in the Caribbean, to avoid paying taxes.
"We have corporations that go around the world to shelter their income and pay absolutely nothing. We need to have an overhaul of our tax system."
On Monday, it was also reported that President Obama pays a lower income tax rate than his secretary pays.
Local groups supporting the Buffett Rule planned to hold a rally Tuesday afternoon in the greenspace across from the Clay Center in downtown Charleston, featuring an inflatable 20-foot-tall "Fat Cat."
Groups supporting the rally include the West Virginia AFL-CIO, West Virginia Citizen Action Group, American Friends Service Committee, Communication Workers of America, West Virginia Center on Budget & Policy and the West Virginia Education Association.