As President Obama and Congressional leaders continue discussions to avert the so-called "fiscal cliff" -- the mix of tax increases and spending cuts set to automatically take effect in January -- two prominent Congressional Democrats are calling on the President to include a version of the Buffett Rule for tax fairness in any deal. U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Senator-elect Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) today sent a letter to President Obama urging him to fight for the Paying a Fair Share Act, which would implement the Buffett Rule, during the negotiations.
"In addition to letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire for incomes above $250,000 as you have pledged to do, we believe it is imperative to enact a safeguard to ensure that the highest-earning Americans cannot subvert the progressivity of the tax code through loopholes and special rates not available to middle-class families," Whitehouse and Baldwin wrote. "We once again urge you to champion the "Buffett Rule' in your negotiations and stand ready to assist you in any way we can."
The Paying a Fair Share Act was first introduced by Whitehouse in the Senate earlier this year. Baldwin introduced the companion legislation in the House of Representatives. The bill would make sure multi-million-dollar earners pay a minimum tax rate of 30 percent. In addition to restoring fairness to the tax code, the bill would generate $47 billion in new revenue over the next decade according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. In April, 51 Senators voted in favor of advancing the measure, but it was blocked by a Republican filibuster.
The full text of the letter is below.
November 29, 2012
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Re: Paying a Fair Share Act
Dear Mr. President:
As you continue to negotiate with Congressional Leaders on a compromise to avert automatic tax rate increases and funding cuts, we write to urge you to include our Paying a Fair Share Act in any deal. This legislation, which a majority of Senators voted to advance last April, would implement the so-called "Buffett Rule" by requiring multi-million-dollar earners to pay at least a 30% effective federal tax rate.
In remarks on April 11, 2012 urging Members of Congress to support our bill, you noted that, "one in four millionaires pays a lower tax rate than millions of hardworking middle-class households." Such inequity, inexcusable at any time, has been compounded by the funding cuts in the Budget Control Act, which fall disproportionately on programs that help lower-income and middle-class families.
In addition to letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire for incomes above $250,000 as you have pledged to do, we believe it is imperative to enact a safeguard to ensure that the highest-earning Americans cannot subvert the progressivity of the tax code through loopholes and special rates not available to middle-class families. In addition to serving as that safeguard, our Paying a Fair Share Act would reduce the deficit by $47 billion, helping to avoid more painful budget options.
We know the task of negotiating a deficit-reduction deal is difficult, and we commend the work you have done so far. We once again urge you to champion the "Buffett Rule" in your negotiations and stand ready to assist you in any way we can.
U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse
U.S. Senator-elect Tammy Baldwin