In one of the strangest political turn of events that I've witnessed since being elected to Congress, the American people have seen President Barack Obama attempting to channel former President Ronald Reagan as part of an effort to garner support for his so-called Buffett Rule.
During the last few months, the president has traversed our nation holding numerous press conferences where he has claimed that Ronald Reagan would have supported the very same Buffett Tax he is proposing. To back this statement, the administration points to a clip of President Reagan saying that "in America the wealthiest should pay their fair share." In fact, the president has gone so far as to suggest that we could rename the Buffett Rule the Reagan Rule.
With this president's failed record, I can certainly understand his desire to fabricate a sponsorship of his efforts by former President Reagan. Unfortunately, in order for President Obama to use the Reagan legacy, he has had to greatly distort the intentions of our 40th president.
It is true that President Reagan believed that millionaires and billionaires should pay their fair share in taxes. But whereas this president simply wants to raise taxes on business owners, Reagan believed that we must close the unproductive, unfair tax loopholes that often allow the truly wealthy to pay nothing at all. What President Reagan was proposing was real tax reform that would take our impossibly burdensome tax code and make it flatter, simpler and more competitive.
This is in stark contrast to what President Obama aims to achieve with his Buffett Rule. In fact, the president seems unsure of what exactly his Buffett Rule would accomplish, besides scoring political points.
President Obama originally sold the Buffett Rule as a way to "stabilize our debt and deficits for the next decade." In fact, he stated on numerous occasions that that the Buffett Rule "is not politics" but "math." Unfortunately, the math proved to not add up. According to the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, the rule would only bring in $46.7 billion over ten years. That is around $4 billion a year, which would cover one day's worth of our deficit spending.
The president then said his rule would "strengthen our economy and create jobs." But many organizations, including the United States Chamber of Commerce, predict that the Buffett Rule would have the exact opposite effect. This is because almost 80 percent of businesses file their taxes as individuals and could therefore be subjected to the new tax. This would directly translate to further loss of jobs and hurt the very individuals that we are relying on to get our economy moving again.
Finally, the president said that it was an issue of fairness. While the wealthy absolutely should pay their fair share, almost half of Americans don't pay any income taxes all. Additionally, the United States already has the highest corporate tax rate in the world. If president wanted a truly "fair" tax rate, then he should call for a flatter and fairer tax rate to be applied to all income with no deductions or exemptions.
The truly ironic part in this current debate is that it is really House Republicans, not President Obama, who are in agreement with President Reagan. In fact, we introduced and passed a budget in the House last month that would initiate the process of closing the very loopholes that President Reagan was talking about. But rather than work with us on this budget, President Obama hit the campaign trail distorting the truth about our efforts.
Gimmicks like the Buffett Rule might make for good politics, but they will do little to jump-start our economy and put our nation on a path to prosperity. President Reagan put forth an ambitious agenda that paved the way for the Reagan Recovery, a period of spectacular economic growth. Rather than relying on the politics of envy and division to win elections, our 40th President showed bold leadership and put forth real solutions to win the future.