President Barack Obama suggested on Wednesday that former President Ronald Reagan would have backed the Buffett Rule, which would set a minimum 30 percent income tax rate for Americans with incomes higher than $1 million, according to Politico.
While speaking in Florida, Obama said, "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."
The plan, formally called the Paying a Fair Share Act, will go through a procedural vote on the Senate floor next week, with the Obama administration and Democrats pushing strongly in its favor.
Flanked by millionaires on both sides, as well as their secretaries, Obama continued, "I'm not the first president to call for this idea that everyone has to do their fair share," and quoted from a speech where Reagan said tax loopholes for the wealthy were "crazy."
Obama said, "What Ronald Reagan was calling for then is the same thing we're calling for – a return to basic fairness and responsibility," according to Politico.
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ThinkProgress, a progressive political blog, posted a video last year which contrasted Reagan's speech and Obama campaigning for the Buffett Rule:
Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, who drew up the House Republican budget plan which was quickly embraced by the GOP, called the Buffett Rule "pixie dust" on MSNBC's show Morning Joe.
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Obama denied that the Buffett Rule was a "gimmick" to close the deficit. He said, "This is not just about fairness. This is also about growth. This is also about being able to make the investments we need to succeed and it's about we, as a country, being willing to pay for those investments and closing our deficits," according to ABC News.
Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware who supports the Buffett Rule, said on MSNBC's Morning Joe that the rule should include an exemption for small businesses so they wouldn't face a doubling of their tax rates.
The measure would raise $47 billion in 10 years, insufficient to make a dent in government spending and debt, but the administration made the case that the extra money could spare some popular government programs and promote growth.
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday, "We should be focused on jobs and energy legislation that can pass—not tax-hike show-votes designed to fail," according to ABC News.
While the administration framed the Buffett Rule as an issue of fairness and income equality, the Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus accused the president of "campaigning on fear, division and class warfare," according to CBS News.
Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to stump for the Buffett Rule on a campaign stop in New Hampshire on Thursday in the lead up to the Senate vote, according to The Boston Globe.
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Here is a clip from Obama's speech yesterday in Florida, courtesy of Politico: