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Letter to the editor:

‘Buffett rule’ is a distraction

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 (2:01 a.m.)

Unemployment is still over 8 percent. Businesses aren’t hiring. The Democratic Senate has not presented a budget in almost three years. The president presented a budget that was voted down 414-0. We now have gotten word that the monthly deficit for March of 2012 was a shade under $200 billion. Entitlements are careening toward insolvency. Medicare “as we know it” will explode within 10 years if nothing is done now to fix the problem.

Considering all of these massive issues, who could ever imagine that the president would spend almost all his time touting the “Buffett rule”? This insignificant issue, along with the removal of “Big Oil” subsidies — the result of passage for both would be $8.7 billion a year in revenue or our deficit spending for two days — has been the focus of Air Force One travel and numerous press conferences. Even the White House admitted that the “Buffett rule” will do nothing to control the debt — they are just issues of “fairness.”

What’s not fair is having a president decide to stop working for the people of this country and put the pressing needs of citizens on the back burner to present social doctrine to his base. We need jobs, Mr. President, not platitudes about how you think millionaires should be paying another couple percent in taxes. Please get to work helping the unemployed as opposed to trying to win elections with rhetoric about false issues.

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Discussion: 58 comments so far…

  1. Good letter. I would add the following in complete agreement.The president exclaims that there is excessive income inequality in America . As a result, the president seeks to increase income taxes on everyone making over one million dollars a year, his " Buffett Rule". After all, Warren Buffett, the celebrated billionaire, and Rule's namesake, announced his own willingness to pay more in income taxes so that his tax rate would not be less than his secretary's.

    So what's the reason these "rich Americans" and potential new income tax victims are still paying capital gains/dividend tax rates of only 15%. The thinking behind this is to create an incentive so that businesses will be able to raise more money to stimulate capital investment and also to reduce the burden of double taxation.Once on earnings at the corporate level, and again at the personal level on receipt of capital gains/ dividends payments. The "Buffett Rule" is yet another example where Obama's ideology trumps the best interests of America, and undermines our economy.

    Obama's "Buffett Rule" is actually intended as a diversion from the major headaches and problems plaguing real Americans everyday as the result of Obama's deadbeat policies. It will do nothing to effect recovery of the housing market. Nothing to stimulate the job market. To the contrary, it likely will hurt the job market. Nothing to reduce gasoline prices. Nothing to cut through the mass of red tape in federal regulations that is holding back businesses from moving forward with growth plans . Nothing to reduce the 50% of wage earners paying no income taxes. Almost nothing to reduce the size of the enormous national debt. Nothing to relieve corporations from paying the highest income tax rates on the face of the earth.

    So when the entire effect of the "Buffett Rule" is honestly examined , it is nothing more than one more dead end ideologue waste of time for Americans.

  2. Defined as Gimmick: a unique or quirky special feature that makes something "stand out" from its contemporaries. However, the special feature is typically thought to be of little relevance or use. Thus, a gimmick is a special feature for the sake of having a special feature.

    Gimmicks are fakes and this one does nothing to address the spending problem of the Federal govt.

  3. So, what's the theme here? If it won't completely solve the deficit problem, it shouldn't be done?

    Following that tortured reasoning, I suppose reducing discretionary government spending here and there should not be done because it doesn't completely solve the deficit problem either.

    Advocates for millionaires and oil companies are fond of distracting us by pointing to other problems as long as they're not required to participate in the solution.

  4. "No man should receive a dollar unless that dollar has been fairly earned. Every dollar received should represent a dollar's worth of service rendered not gambling in stocks, but service rendered. The really big fortune, the swollen fortune, by the mere fact of its size, acquires qualities which differentiate it in kind as well as in degree from what is possessed by men of relatively small means. Therefore, I believe in a graduated income tax on big fortunes, and in another tax which is far more easily collected and far more effective, a graduated inheritance tax on big fortunes, properly safeguarded against evasion, and increasing rapidly in amount with the size of the estate." - Theodore Roosevelt

  5. Whatever you do with tax 'rates, if the income tax code isn't re-written, it will continue to be used to reduce the amount people and businesses actually pay. So the Buffet Rules 30 % rate will turn out to be much less because the income tax code will be used to reduce what those people pay.

    The President talks about 'fairness' but if we really want 'fairness and increased tax revenue', we need to have Congress rewite the income tax code so their are only 3 rates, and most of the deductions and writeoffs are removed or greatly reduced... for all Americans and businesses.

    If we did that, all Americans with an income of any kind would pay income taxes on a progressive scale, so everyone would care about their tax rate, and the wealthy and businesses could no longer greatly reduce their tax rate (ie Romney at 22 % and Obama at 20 %).

    These commom sense proposals are lost in the fog of the fight over inconsequential proposals like the Buffet Rule.

    I'll say it one more time. If we raise tax rates but leave the income tax code as it is, I 'guarantee' you that the wealthy 'will not' end up paying the stated rate!


  6. Amazing how the Republicons have nothing,...have no ideas on how to repair the economic mess THEY made over the last 30 years. Its always the black guys fault. No, no its not. Republicons have nothing for anybody, not even their own supporters beyond more tax cuts for the wealthy while crashing the economy for everyone else. Truly American.

  7. I say, let's celebrate that the rich are rich, and that you can also be rich. This is America where smart hard work can pay off. What a great place to live. The harder one is willing to work the more money they can make. As it is, the top income earners pay most of the income taxes right now. Liberals can be a negative bunch who look down on successful people who have money. Get a life guys.

  8. The "Buffett Rule" has again brought out of the dark cave the liberal, rich person haters.Most income taxes are paid by the wealthiest individuals now. Let's leave them with the lion's share of their wealth just to prove the point that this is a nation of opportunity. A nation where you are able to keep the fruits of your labor. Let's celebrate the wealthy and the successful. They fashion an incentive and hope for the rest of us that we too have opportunity in this exceptional nation where there can be hope and optimism for a better life.

  9. Ah, yes, dipstick, he who resides in Crook County, IL, calls for us to sacrifice while he crows about saving 100 bucks a month because of Obamacare. How typical of a Dumbocrat! They pat you on the back while stealing your wallet. Let's put the USA back on the path of self-reliance, self-esteem and self-respect come November. Vote Mitt!

  10. With such complexity in the tax code and the persistent unwillingness or inability to scrap it and start over, how's about eliminating a few exemptions and deductions across the board--so as not to further complicate the code AND increase tax revenue some? Let's not phase out something 'cause that just adds complexity. ELIMINATE specific code sections. And I agree with many of you that we must phase out UN-entitlements such as welfare and Medicaid. UC is OK 'cause it's earned by employees but we might put a needs test on it and/or reduce the payment amounts. Back when, Clinton and company passed a 2 year limit and 5 year limit on welfare but it seems that's just to TANF. They still give away everything else forever and ever--food stamps, Medicaid, Child Care, LIHEA and such. In order to phase this out of the federal system and let those States that choose to pick up where needed, let's put time limits on everything else, retroactive, and start eliminating eligibility for people who have been collecting and collecting. The only exception would be permanently disabled individuals and that would NOT be for all the benies--just the disability coverage.

  11. Tax the oil companies! Tax the defense contractors! Tax the Bankers ! Tax the rich doctors and drug companies ! After 30 years of trickle down the jobs ain't comming.The beast the washed up movie star was starving is us.

  12. frank, don't you think Obama voting against the Iraqi war makes him look like a coward?

    And you really pay 30% income tax rate????
    Obama does not even pay that, he is around 20% and paid less than HIS secartary.

    Thank you for paying 30%, it helps the country and all those poor people !

  13. I don't use the immoral drug companies twisted products !

  14. Joe even though your a Repubican and all- I kind of missed you have you been sick or something ? I hope you didn't have to face that cluster american medical ediface.

  15. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/emps...
    Business aren't hiring???? Nearly half of the workers fired during the down turn have been hired back...about 4 million. In addition there are currently over 3 million want adds for workers. Finding educated qualified workers is a bigger problem.
    Brother Ref and I discussed his labor participation rates yesterday. It has changed very little since 1950.

  16. brtaylor - "Would you rather give money to the government or invest in your business? Please give me an honest answer and I will follow up with another intelligent question."

    Would you rather give money to people who collapsed the economy at no risk to themselves? Not only that, made the shrinking middle class and low income wage earners pay for their greed?

    Although the Buffet Rule barely puts a dent in our debt, at least some common folk will feel that someone is trying to create a sense of fairness.

    Since the slow destruction of unions and wages frozen or scaled down working people don't consume as much. Pull out safety mechanisms as the Glass Steagall Act, add the "American Dream" about owning a home through predatory lending and huge firms bundling deals sold off as junk to other banks and what do you get?

    A side note:

    Rasmussen polling is known to be right wing biased. Don't bet the farm count on their numbers.

  17. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505123_162-5...
    Labor participation has dropped 2 points since 2007 and has been between 60% and 65% for the past 60 plus years. It moves very little and few even follow it. After the election you won't hear about it until the next election.
    The construction industry is one of our biggest employers with 7 million participants. This is a MAJOR problem area. The entire industry has gone kaboom.
    Vegas has lost between 70 and 90,000 construction jobs. This is more workers than are employed in the entire domestic oil and gas industry. You cant have normal rates of employment until this industry recovers. The industry has had about 14 months of job growth and is recovering but still deeply depressed.
    Construction is the key to 6% unemployment.

  18. http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2002/05/art2...
    The above represents a 100 year labor perspective. If anyone cares they can read it and come up with whatever conclusions they feel appropriate on the topic. Read it in bed. Works better than Lunesta for a good nights sleep.
    In terms of taxation and deficits we are currently $53 trillion short of where we need to be to cover medicare, medicaid, and SS. The numbers signing up for the programs are at record levels rapidly approaching 100 million.
    People love the programs but hate paying for them. The Buffet rule is kind of a joke. It probably wouldn't raise enough $$$$$ to cover those standing in line TODAY.
    We are a mature economy with an aging population. Economic growth will be slower going forward because of this. No way to grow our way out of it.
    We can either continue on the current path and default within 50 years. This is what Asia, Latin America and Russia have done.
    Or we can reduce medical costs dramatically,(the bulk of all this is medical cost related) and institute a national sales to cover the remainder.
    A 20% reduction in medical would save $10 trillion and a 8% national sales tax would pay for the rest.

  19. Anyone who believes that people will accept massive cuts to the above programs to solve the deficit issue is living on Fantasy Island with Ricardo Mantalban.
    SS, Medicare and Medicaid are here to stay. People have to decide whether to pay for the programs currently or put them on the credit card and write off the balance in a few decades.

  20. If the author of this article and the supporters are not millionaires, then this is just another classic act of stupidy in voting against your own interest. Get off of the partisan level for a moment and look at what just might be in your own best interest rather than spouting the party line. If all aspects of our Govenment had worked together instead of one side adopting a policy of VOTING "NO' EVEN ON PROJECTS THAT HAD ORIGINATED WITHIN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY. IN ALL HONESTY DON'T YOU BELIEVE THIS CRISIS WOULD NOW BE HISTORY? I am not saying accept every thing offered by the President, but compromise and work for the good of the PEOPLE --we could have made much more progress then just with one part of our elected Govenment trying to do it alone.

  21. Joe, the End of the World is not here ... yet. Nor is the U.S. weak and pitiful ... yet -- despite the best efforts of some.

    Allow me to suggest that you are mistaken; that the "Buffett Rule" exposes a major split in the Nation; and that the refusal to discuss the issue of inequality is a mistake at least as great as the refusal 150 years ago to discuss the issue of slavery.

    Governments exist either by consent or by force of arms. Some 237 years ago, a government which had governed by consent decided in its infinite wisdom to strike at a small minority of "terrorists" who afflicted them. That government acted in a lawful manner. The result of that lawful exercise of lawful power for a lawful end was a loss of consent. No amount of military power which could be brought to bear by that government, which was then the world's most powerful military power, could re-impose control.

    The "terrorists" (for so that government considered them) eventually issued a "press release" which included the following:

    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, -- That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

    There is, Joe, a view that the government is destructive of those "unalienable Rights". It is currently a minority view, but the refusal of a Senate minority to allow discussion of the "Buffett Rule" in a public forum, may, by inciting public discussion, result in that view becoming the majority view. If the majority or even a significant minority come to be of the mind that if continued the current form of government would inevitably and inexorably reduce them to poverty and to permanent inferiority of treatment and opportunity, then it will lose consent, just that other government 237 years ago lost consent and could never get it back by any means.

    237 years ago there was a minority view whose sparks were fanned into flame and then into a raging conflagration by self-assured insensitivity. 150 years ago there was a minority view whose sparks were fanned into flame and then into a raging conflagration by self-assured insensitivity. Do we really need to test our luck a third time? Or is a conservative approach more prudent?

  22. The truth of the matter is most rich people got rich by cheating the government. JB morgan sold bad rifles to the Union Army and old Cheney got things deal to him from Haliburton. Should I be jealous of you thieves ?

  23. @hookershaky: JP Morgan was a banker in New York during the Civil War, his father had been a banker and left him $10 Million ... so where does this selling "bad rifles" come from??? As to Cheney. He was a politician before becoming CEO of Halliburton, so how did he cheat the government?

  24. Leric, don't all politicians by definition cheat the government? They certainly cheat the voters. :)

    Joking aside, whether or not people like Joe's politics, he is correct in saying that the most important task for the President is to work on lowering unemployment. It is also the most important task for Congress, as well.

    The only way we are going to truly heal our economy is to bring back manufacturing jobs that have been moved offshore. This will not be easy and will take dedicated effort to restructuring our tax code and trade treaties.

    The simple fact of the matter is that jobs in the service industries can not replace jobs in manufacturing in either quantity or quality of pay.

  25. @RefNV: Yes, the debt problem at the state and local government level is dangerous -- and, as it turns out, that is where the "Conservative" (please note the quotation marks and the capitalization of the C) impact has been greatest at limiting state and local revenues and thus reducing the capacity of those governments to handle their existing debt. California, is a prime example of this. To frame this as a "liberal" creation is to avoid the very real role of "Conservatives" in both expanding benefits and restricting the ability to pay for them.

  26. @boftx: Oh the irony of such a position from Joe, who never saw an expenditure he liked if it was advanced by a D. We could have come roaring out of the Great Recession had we actually spent money on necessary public works. But we had a cautious, moderate President more like Herbert Hoover than Franklin D. Roosevelt. And, when that President has advanced a pro-manufacturing policy, Joe pooh-poohed that as improper governmental action which is unworkable because it involves government having an pro-industrial policy.

    We need to rise above partisanship, but we will descend further into stupidity as Silly Season runs its' course.

  27. Saul Alinsky is smiling from his grave at you useful idiots...

  28. There is a difference between capital gain taxes and income taxes.

    After paying your income taxes on money that you have earned you risk that money by investing it and if your risk pays off you pay taxes on that profit (Capital gains). Capital gains SHOULD be lower because you are taking a risk. If people didn't take risks investing their hard earned money our country would be in shambles!


  29. leric : your a manipulator just like the rest of us! look up "the hall carbine scandal".