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The Buffett Rule (aka The Reagan Rule)

Press Secretary Jay Carney explains how the Buffett Rule, proposed to ensure everyone does their fair share and everyone plays by the same set of rules, was previously supported by a very well-known Republican President.

The President believes we should build an economy where everyone does their fair share and everyone plays by the same set of rules. That’s why he proposed the Buffett Rule. It’s simple: if you make more than $1 million a year, you should pay at least the same percentage of your income in taxes as middle class families do. On the other hand, if you make under $250,000 a year – like 98 percent of American families do – your taxes shouldn’t go up. 

Today at the White House the President met with millionaires and their assistants who support the Buffett Rule.  The fact is, a majority of the American people agree with this idea.  Surveys have found that most millionaires and nearly half of Republicans also agree. There’s another Republican who also agreed with this principle: President Ronald Reagan.

The President originally introduced the Buffett Rule as a principle of a broader tax reform plan – just like Ronald Reagan – that would simplify the tax code and lower tax rates – just like Ronald Reagan – including getting rid of subsidies for millionaires that they do not need –  just like Ronald Reagan.  And yet, Congressional Republicans managed to denounce President Obama’s proposal even before he had even introduced it.  Congressional Republicans have another shot at supporting Buffett Rule next week.  We’ll see where they stand.

I’m not the first President to call for this idea that everybody has got to do their fair share.  Some years ago, one of my predecessors traveled across the country pushing for the same concept.  He gave a speech where he talked about a letter he had received from a wealthy executive who paid lower tax rates than his secretary, and wanted to come to Washington and tell Congress why that was wrong.  So this President gave another speech where he said it was “crazy” -- that's a quote -- that certain tax loopholes make it possible for multimillionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying 10 percent of his salary.  That wild-eyed, socialist, tax-hiking class warrior was Ronald Reagan.

He thought that, in America, the wealthiest should pay their fair share, and he said so.  I know that position might disqualify him from the Republican primaries these days, but what Ronald Reagan was calling for then is the same thing that we’re calling for now:  a return to basic fairness and responsibility; everybody doing their part.  And if it will help convince folks in Congress to make the right choice, we could call it the Reagan Rule instead of the Buffett Rule.