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Obama pushes 'Buffett Rule' to tax the wealthy. GOP cries 'class warfare!'

To reduce the deficit and create jobs, President Obama wants a "Buffett Rule" to make the super wealthy pay taxes at a rate more like average Americans. Republicans call that "class warfare."

By Staff writer / September 18, 2011

President Barack Obama meets with Warren Buffett, the Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, in the Oval Office, July 18, 2011. Obama is pushing the "Buffett Rule" to raise taxes on the wealthy.

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If you’re aiming to tap the wallets of “millionaires and billionaires,” as President Obama is with his plan to create jobs and reduce the national debt, it’s not a bad idea to have at least one prominent billionaire on your side.

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And that Obama does with investor and philanthropist Warren Buffett, the “Oracle of Omaha” whose estimated net worth is $47 billion. They’re such good buddies, in fact, that the “Buffett Rule” will be part of the plan to be unveiled at the White House Monday morning.

Details will be left to those in the administration and Congress tasked with rewriting the federal tax code. But the essence, as first reported in the New York Times, is that the wealthy “pay at least the same percentage of their earnings as middle-income taxpayers.”

In the abstract, at least, it’s hard to argue with that. And polls show that most Americans – in theory, at least – are on Obama’s side.

Earlier this year, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey showed that 81 percent of those polled agreed that “placing a surtax on federal income taxes for people earning over one million dollars a year” would be “acceptable” (55 percent said “totally acceptable”). Sixty-eight percent also were OK with “phasing out the Bush tax cuts for families earning $250,000 or more per year.”

Those are pretty whopping numbers – potent political ammo for a president whose approval ratings are down in the weeds. Whether or not the “Buffett Rule” becomes law – a highly unlikely prospect given a Republican-controlled House of Representatives not inclined to do anything Obama could take credit for – it’s already part of Obama’s re-election campaign.

And raising taxes – any taxes and no matter how slight the raise – is strictly verboten among the GOP presidential candidates. Asked recently which of them would accept a legislative package that included $10 in spending cuts for every $1 in revenue increases, nobody dared accept.

From the Republican perspective, any attempt to nick the wealthy for even a bit more in taxes in order to reduce the deficit and invest in job creation boils down to one thing: class warfare.

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