The Buffett Rule: Is there anything it can’t do?

The Obama administration seems to think the Buffett Rule is the Swiss Army knife of policy proposals. It can do almost anything! Last year, when the President first proposed the rule that would slap an additional tax on the wealthiest 400 households in America, he claimed it would pay for his jobs bill and “stabilize” the debt for a decade. Last week, the White House brazenly claimed that no one ever said it would have a “significant” impact on the debt but that the rule was all about “tax fairness”.

Now, there’s a new spin on the President’s pet proposal. Yesterday, in his weekend address, the President claimed the Buffett Rule isn’t about “tax fairness” so much as it’s about economic growth. He reinforced the new claim while in Cartagena, Colombia today.

“That is not an argument about redistribution. That is an argument about growth,” Obama said in response to a reporter’s question at a news conference in Colombia. “In the history of the United States, we grow best when our growth is broad based.”

“This is not an argument about taking from A to give to B. This is not a redistributionist argument that we’re making. We’re making an argument about how do we grow the economy in a 21st century environment,” Obama said.

In reality, the President has not made an argument at all, but a claim. Like the other two rationales for the Buffett Rule, which is a textbook example of redistribution, there is nothing behind it but an army of strawmen and a sternly stated “Nuh uh!”

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