Dead. Kaput. Dunzo. The Buffett Rule, which would have raised taxes on the U.S. millionaires and was supported by 60 percent of Americans, died in the Senate yesterday. But that won't stop Republicans and Obama from using it as a political tool. "The 51-45 vote yesterday in Washington fell short of the 60 needed to advance the measure, and Republicans derided the Buffett rule as a political stunt," writes Bloomberg's Rich Rubin. "For [Obama], it's not about jobs or the economy," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in USA Today's report. "It's about his idea of fairness, about imposing it on others."
Okay, so let's just take a moment to digest the harshness of imposing "fairness" on others. Done. What Mitch McConnell and his fellow Republicans are hinting at is that Obama is using the Buffett Rule's failure as a springboard into 2012's election. "They call it a tax hike that shows Obama is more interested in railing against the rich than in helping create jobs for all Americans," writes USA Today's David Jackson.
So by not letting Democrats reach a super majority in the Senate and putting a stop on the bill means Republicans won right? Well, not exactly. They still voted against a measure that, last time Gallup checked, 60 percent of Americans supported. And regardless of the reasons for their vote, they've opened themselves up to this kind of politicizing: "Republicans want to give even further tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires, while we think the very wealthy should share in more sacrifice so the burden doesn't fall on the middle class," Senator Chuck Schumer told Bloomberg's Rubin. Rubin adds that Schumer said Democrats will return to the issue repeatedly. One of those Democrats, of course, is President Obama who released this statement after last night Senate vote:
The Buffett Rule is common sense. At a time when we have significant deficits to close and serious investments to make to strengthen our economy, we simply cannot afford to keep spending money on tax cuts that the wealthiest Americans don't need and didn't ask for.
But it's also about basic fairness -- it's just plain wrong that millions of middle-class Americans pay a higher share of their income in taxes than some millionaires and billionaires. America prospers when we're all in it together and everyone has the opportunity to succeed.
One of the fundamental challenges of our time is building an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules. And I will continue to push Congress to take steps to not only restore economic security for the middle class and those trying to reach the middle class, but also to create an economy that's built to last.