Senate floor debate is happening right now on the Buffett Rule, with a procedural vote expected later today. And Republican leaders have made clear how they will justify filibustering the common sense position that all multimillionaires should pay a higher tax rate than their secretaries.
With incoherent whining.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell led off the whine buffet by complaining about increasing debt ... then complaining about increased revenue that would reduce debt ... then complaining the Buffet Rule increase revenue enough.
We’ve got a $15 trillion debt. Some call it the most predictable crisis in history. We have the largest tax increase in the history of the country looming that will hit every single American who pays income taxes in less than 9 months.
Well, President Obama looked at the options in front of him, sat down with his political advisors, and he said, you know what, let’s go with the poll-tested tax increase on investment and job creation that won’t fix anything and won’t pass anyway, instead of actually doing something about the debt and the deficit.
Of course, if you are believer in math, any "tax increase" is by definition doing something about the debt and deficit.
But since the Buffett Rule won't single-handedly balance the budget, Republicans are attacking it as meaningless, hoping you won't connect the dots that if this one tax increase on multimillionaires who live on investment income won't cut the deficit enough, then perhaps we should increase taxes the wealthy more broadly.
McConnell also repeatedly whined that the Buffett Rule is about President Obama's "idea of fairness" and "about imposing it on others."
Somehow it is Obama who has a strange foreign notion that it is unfair when multimillionaires pay lower tax rates than middle class workers, just because they get their income from investments and not labor.
Some could argue it is McConnell and his fellow conservative Republicans who have a strange foreign notion of fairness, since they believe that it is shockingly unfair to have an estate tax on multimillionaire heirs, despite its 90-year success at preventing the creation of an entrenched aristocracy that restricts income mobility.
It is McConnell who said in 2001 of estate tax reform proposals that would effect a few thousand mega-rich estates: "it simply is not fair, as a moral, political, or philosophical matter, to tax someone for dying ... passing on hard-earned assets to loved ones is a choice."
McConnell then made the ludicrous claim that Obama is resorting to a "political gimmick" because he is ignoring a glorious "bipartisan compromise" that's just laying around:
[There's] a growing bipartisan consensus not only about the existence of these problems but also about the proper solution. Just about everybody agrees that comprehensive tax reform would help turn this economy around ... The problem is, we’ve got a President who seems more interested in pitting people against each other than he is in actually doing what it takes to face these challenges head on and to solve them in a bipartisan manner
Do I even need to waste time debunking this lunacy? There is no "bipartisan consensus" on tax reform.
There is a Democratic Party that believes any deficit reduction package needs higher taxes on the wealthy to avoid unnecessary pain on the middle class and the poor. There is a Republican Party that believes we are heading for a fiscal apocalypse, but that is no reason to ask multimillionaires to cough up one more penny.
Further, let's not forget the President has already struck two bipartisan compromises on the budget. One accepted more tax cuts for the wealthy which he opposed to avoid abrupt hikes on the middle class during a nascent recovery. Another accepted more spending cuts than he wanted to avoid a calamitous refusal to increase the debt ceiling. Sen. McConnell is aware of this, because he voted for both of these.
And let's remember that "we have the largest tax increase in the history of the country" coming "in less than 9 months" because of the budget gimmicks that McConnell voted for 10 years ago -- putting an expiration date on the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy to mask their long-term cost.
The final idiotic whine is that the Buffett Rule won't create jobs. McConnell said of the Buffett Rule supporters, "Nobody’s even claiming this thing creates jobs."
Of course, the same can be said of the entire Republican budget. After seeing their jobs projections mercilessly debunked by independent economists in 2011, this year Republicans didn't even both to make a jobs estimate.
In contrast, the Buffett Rule is not President Obama's entire budget, it is merely one plank. Obama has already proposed a budget that would produce an estimated 15 million jobs.
Republicans aren't even trying to make a honest case against the Buffett Rule before they filibuster it. Something tells me voters are going to notice.
Co-director Robert Borosage calls today's vote on the Buffett Rule legislation "a no-brainer. The Senators who oppose this minimal standard have shred all sense of decency. Only the corrupt or the morally bankrupt could vote to protect the ability of the richest Americans to pay a lower rate of taxes than the rest of us." Read the press release.