Monday Column: Making a Case for the ‘Buffett Rule’

Lets take politics out of the equation for a moment.

Why do people who earn more than $1 million get taxed at a lower rate than people who earn $100,000?

I challenge anyone to use a logical argument, devoid of political motivations, to explain it to me.

Because the way I look at it, we are all extraordinarily fortunate to be living in the United States of America. Do I enjoy paying taxes? Of course not. But I do enjoy the peace of mind and security that I am afforded as a result of paying my taxes and as a result of everyone else paying theirs.

So before Congress has another coronary, lets debate the merits of Warren Buffett’s (and more recently President Obama’s) proposal to reform the country’s tax code:

(This is going to over-simplify the argument, but bear with me).

If I go to the grocery store, I pay the same price for a gallon of milk as Donald Trump. I don’t get a special discount for earning less money, and Trump doesn’t get rewarded for earning more.

But when it comes to paying for the services of the local police department, fire department, and school system (among other things), there is a chance I could pay a higher proportion of my income in taxes than The Donald. I don’t care who you are – that does not make sense.

Warren Buffett has said that in discussions with other mega-millionaires and billionaires, he has found that people wouldn’t be upset about paying higher taxes. U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan has apparently spoken with his constituents and concluded the opposite, and that raising taxes on the wealthy would constitute “class warfare.”

Let’s say for now that I don’t believe either of them at face value, because they both have their own motives. I’m not advocating for Congress to convene and hold a vote tonight. All I’m advocating for is an honest discussion before dismissing a proposal that could generate well over a billion dollars in revenue.

The job of Congress is not to decide between what is and isn’t fair – it is to represent the interests of 300 million or so Americans. I’m going out on a limb here, but I’m going to guess at least 299,990,000 of those Americans would want Congress to DISCUSS the proposed “Buffett Rule.”

Here’s this for a suggestion: write a letter to your congressman or congresswoman. They are there to represent YOU. So rather than letting them make assumptions on your behalf, inform them of your opinion. Tell them what you think. All it takes is a few minutes of your time, an envelope, and a stamp (that goes for about $.44 apiece these days, if I’m not mistaken).

And just think – you could even save the U.S. Postal Service in the process by flooding them with letters. Talk about doing your civic duty.


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