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The Buffet Rule Disguised as ‘Romney Rule’ for Reelection

Of course it’s popular.

From CBS:

In asking the question, Gallup did not actually use the term “Buffett Rule.” Here’s how the question was asked: “Would you favor or oppose Congress passing a new law that would require households earning $1 million a year or more to pay a minimum of 30 percent of their income in taxes?”

That conforms to the way President Obama has been describing the proposal, though the version of the bill set for a Senate vote on Monday is slightly more complicated. It would mandate that income above $2 million would be taxed at least at a 30 percent rate, with a graduated boost in the minimum marginal rates for income between $1 million and $2 million. The GOP-led House is not expected to take up the bill, and it is thus not expected to become law.

What needs to happen is repealing all of the Bush tax cuts across the board, while raising taxes on the top 2%, and lifting the cap on income that could be taxed for Social Security. Consider that a little Harry Truman truth from a liberal not supporting or campaigning for either candidate.

Republicans don’t want to tax the wealthy, even if the Buffet Rule is only expected to produce $47 billion in ten years and is only a beginning of what’s needed. Who can blame voters for siding with Pres. Obama and the Democrats over it?

While partisans bend over backwards to GOTV, the election will be decided by nonpartisans who get a gut feeling about Obama and Romney, with their own pet policy or prejudice weighing the scale down, and then will vote on emotion. The rest will be about whether the race to the bottom on all sides will depress turnout, because the negative ads just sicken everyone to the point of checking out. Young, single, nonpartisan women are particular impacted by ads and pitches that they feel sound biased.

Raising taxes on the wealthiest has been popular for years. It’s just Barack Obama wouldn’t do it without Buffet as his beard, which is meant as a hit on Romney.

Politically, however, it’s the perfect move.

It comes at the same time the New York Times reports the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will not “put up a fight” over credit card fees, which provides the perfect political bookend. Obama giveth and he taketh away.

The agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, introduced a proposal that would make it easier for credit card issuers to charge fees before borrowers’ accounts were officially open.

The Buffet Rule, meant to be seen as the Romney Rule, has been Pres. Obama’s pitch line all week and good for him. It’s about time. But then it’s time for reelection, so of course he’s in fighting mode. Self-preservation does that to politicians.

Who doesn’t remember the lack of economic message during Obama’s entire first term? Until he went populist in Kansas hoping to wake up the base, he was absent on the economy. Obama’s message malaise of the 2010 midterms and the shellacking led him to sign the extension of the Bush tax cuts, adding to an uninspiring economic message from the Democrats.

I also wonder what might have happened if Pres. Obama would have put his bully pulpit behind empowering judges to help homeowners against foreclosure attacks. Eliot Spitzer interviewed Paul Kiel of Propublica on this story this week. Kiel’s incredible reporting on the foreclosure crisis will either make you mad or break your heart, maybe both.

The industry developed tactics of dubious legality – not just robo-signing, which most Americans have heard of by now, but an array of business practices, some dating to the 1990s, that were designed to skirt the law and fatten profits. The federal and state governments largely tolerated these practices until they pushed Ramos into a tent and all of us into the Great Recession.

Even then, the federal government, facing an electorate bitterly divided over how and even whether to help “irresponsible” homeowners, responded in ways that proved ineffective. To be sure, the government’s efforts were unprecedented, as Obama administration officials have repeatedly insisted. But those efforts were also halfhearted. Only recently, after the banks admitted to widespread law-breaking, did the government launch a response that might prove commensurate with the calamity.

This grandmother’s story – outrageous and complex – is our story, the American foreclosure story.

Pres. Obama and his administration deserve a lot of credit for saving this country from true financial calamity. Considering what could have happened, when you look at your average voter peering in at both candidates, it’s hard to blame anyone for thinking Obama did more than Romney would have, because he was against bailing out GM. Mitt Romney’s austerity mindset would be a killer for our economy, the poor and the middle class. (We haven’t even gotten to foreign policy and the gulf between Obama and Romney on the details, which we’ll discuss at another time.) What Obama did for the car industry, complete with feel good ending, is an American success story. The contraceptive mandate for women showed the man has a pulse on what’s important to we girls, though coming after the Stupak Amendment and his cave on Plan B, he owed us, even if it was all about shoring up the women’s vote. How the Republicans explain their opposition to the Ledbetter Act and the fair pay issue, I have no idea. Again, to average voters this makes no sense.

However, the looming possibility of a grand bargain on entitlements, Obama’s deficit talk and tepidness on progressive economics through a rightward leaning economic conservatism has led our country further right and it didn’t have to happen. Considering Barack Obama is a self-described Blue Dog Democrat, which I’ve been writing since 2007, though in different language, no one who’s been reading around here should be surprised.

It’s why for many people who care less about rabid partisanship, most of America, the Obama vs. Romney contest is not one of vast differences. It’s why Obama reelect using the Buffet (Romney) Rule to frame the election could be effective to frame things early, though something in the wider world always knocks our elections for a loop and this year won’t be any different. The Buffet (Romney) Rule sets the candidates in different camps, as does the contraceptive mandate for women, though that is not an issue on which many people will pin their vote. The economy is.

The American foreclosure story further illustrates the paucity of political courage in the face of great need that reveals efforts from our leaders that always resound toward what’s good for the political future of Pres. Obama or Mitt Romney, seen through his never ending pandering, over what’s actually required or needed, even if by doing your job or proposing policies that actually work, it costs you your job.

It’s always about them, the politician and their own self-preservation, election or reelection. They preen that it’s about you, but there’s been no evidence from either Obama or Romney that they’d be willing to put themselves on the line for something they believe in. This cowardice is the cancer on American politics, which money metastasizes.

So, at this point, the only character that needs casting is Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate. To properly fill out the roster, even though I believe Chris Christie would be Romney’s best call, I can’t help but sense the moment is ripe for Paul Ryan. A Romney-Ryan ticket would send the perfect Republican message and set up November just right.

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22 Responses to The Buffet Rule Disguised as ‘Romney Rule’ for Reelection

  1. ladywalker68 April 14, 2012 at 11:49 am #

    It’s always about them, the politician and their own self-preservation, election or reelection. They preen that it’s about you, but there’s been no evidence from either Obama or Romney that they’d be willing to put themselves on the line for something they believe in. This cowardice is the cancer on American politics, which money metastasizes.

    BRAVO! BRAVO! BRAVO!

    • whitepaw April 14, 2012 at 3:19 pm #

      Yes — agree!~!

  2. StrideHyde April 14, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    I remember saying that of the 7 or 8 Democrats running for president in ’07, Obama was one of the most right leaning. People thought I was crazy. These are the same people who feel “punked” by this president. I have no sympathy for anyone who did not pay closer attention back then. He has basically turned out to be who he always was, good and bad.

  3. fangio April 14, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    If the Democrats were a true opposition party they would have a simple, direct and to the point message that they could repeat in mailers, robo calls, television and web ads, newspaper ads and via the usual talking heads. That message would be ” Things have always been better in this country when the wealthy paid their fair share of taxes. ” It’s a no brainer, it’s the way our tax system, love it or leave it, was devised; the more you make the more you pay. This is what a civilized society requires to survive and grow. I fear for the future of this country when I am confronted by the ignorance of many voters. When adults are so easily manipulated how can there be a future for their children. It was said that George W. Bush spoke to his lower income supporters like children; I guess now we can see why. Only a child would not see that if people with the most money don’t support the government and country their making the money from the society as a whole cannot survive. Obama and the Democrats cannot bring themselves to say this because they are rich themselves. When you become rich you change your attitudes towards those less fortunate. This is precisely why they must be forced to pay. People like Romney have treated this country like a carcass, stripping the meat off the bones and leaving the rest to the starving masses. We need a political party or movement that says loud and clear, ” Show us the Money. “

  4. Cujo359 April 14, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    Obama giveth and he taketh away.

    I think it would be more accurate to say Obama promiseth, and then he doeth something else. That’s been his pattern. There’s a widely publicized “promise”, whether it’s the CFPB, Keystone XL, or birth control for employees of religious institutions, then the real policy decisions are announced as part of a Friday news dump.

    It’s great theatre, well, it’s mildly entertaining theatre at least, but it’s not progressive policy.

    As for economic policy, W. is the one who deserves credit for saving GM. Obama deserves credit for continuing that policy, but unlike Bush, his party was generally in favor of that policy. Neither was in favor of saving GM as a matter of principle, but they did it anyway. I’d guess that Romney would have done it, too. It’s another bit of theatre – you can’t let something that bad happen on your watch. It’s just not good politics. In all other respects I can think of, Obama’s priorities are the Republicans’ priorities, which are mostly the Democrats’ real priorities these days. There’s no difference worth discussing.

    I’ll make a bold prediction for 2013. No matter who sits in the White House, and which of the two major parties controls Congress, we’re in for more austerity. It won’t make a damn bit of difference. They’ll make a big show of debating something like Social Security, which only needs a minor adjustment to withholding to be completely funded past 2035 or so, and then they’ll go on screwing us. The Bush tax cuts will remain in place. The only reason the Senate is thinking of passing the cut now is that they know the House won’t. Next year, if Democrats control both houses again, it will be far too complicated a thing to do again.

    And all the “progressives” who are covering for the Democrats’ behavior now will be doing it again next year. After all, until we have 60</strike90 Democratic Senators, what can you realistically expect?

    But isn’t Obama wonderful? He killed bin Laden. Yep, just put on his mask and cape, flew to Pakistan, then left the body for the SEALs to toss out the helicopter. I feel so much better knowing he’s watching out for us.

    • Cujo359 April 14, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

      That last bit of striike-through is a typo,not a correction or retraction on my part. I only meant to “correct” the “60″. Sigh.

    • Cujo359 April 14, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

      … and the link still works, despite the strike-through. Go ahead, try it.

  5. Ga6thDem April 14, 2012 at 5:24 pm #

    If Romney is stupid enough to pick Paul Ryan as his VP then Romney deserves to lose. Paul Ryan’s plan was hated across the board the elderly GOP base will either sit home or vote for Obama if he’s on the ticket. The GOP here in GA thinks Santorum would be a good pick. Are they incredibly stupid or what? Honestly, I think the Dems are incredibly stupid sometimes but the GOP must have the gearshift stuck on stupid to think that either Paul or Santorum would be a good pick. Apparently they think that all they have to do is “turn out their base” to win. It worked once for George W. Bush so they are going on that premise maybe.

    I’m with you, Christie is a much better candidate for VP than any of the others that have been listed. He comes from a blue state and doesn’t “seem” to be a raging fundamentalist like Romney or an creepy Ayn Rand apostle like Paul.

  6. StrideHyde April 14, 2012 at 6:54 pm #

    I don’t think Christie has the temperament to play second fiddle.

    • Ga6thDem April 14, 2012 at 8:15 pm #

      He might not and once he get out there, people will like him less I’m sure but like Taylor says, the VP is supposed to be the pit bull and Christie has a mouth on him that’s well suited for that job. That being said, that’s probably as high as Christie is going to go nationally because I think those personality traits are deadly for a presidential candidate.

  7. fangio April 14, 2012 at 7:13 pm #

    Christie is a jerk. He throws away a golden opportunity to put tens of thousands of people to work building a much needed rail tunnel between N.Y. and N.J. and then turns around and throws millions in tax breaks to companies just to keep them from moving or to create a measly 200 jobs. One is an unfinished defunct entertainment / mall project in the middle of nowhere that will create a few hundred low wage jobs. I guess in that sense he’s perfect for Romney; two people who no nothing about putting people to work.

    • Cujo359 April 14, 2012 at 8:13 pm #

      I don’t think Christie’s time as governor could stand close scrutiny. Of course, one has to wonder if his record would ever receive such scrutiny. How much has there been about Mitt Romney’s time as governor in the mainstream press? We’ve spent the last half of this week arguing about Who Hates Mommies More.

      I’d love to see political campaigns that discussed the issues, and press coverage that covered how likely it is that candidates would do what they say given their records, but to see that I think we’d have to travel to an alternate universe. I suggest we all visit the one where Spock doesn’t have a beard, or the one where Carter is in the Air Force.

    • guyski April 15, 2012 at 7:18 am #

      Currently Gov. Christie’s approval rating in NJ is 59%, Which is probably due in part to the coverage of Corzine’s activities and just the shear amount of corruption going on/being uncovered in NJ.

      Reading the local papers (if people still do) it is constant. Anything from school boards members; who make upwards of $100,000 lying about how much they make, so their kids can get free lunches. Using township employees for your own landscaping. Or in my township hiring a council women’s husband, for job that could have been hired from within and this was months ago, but hasn’t showed up yet, but is getting paid. And the township is getting sued over it. etc. etc.

      This stuff wears you down. Even things that do not pertain specifically to NJ. For example: three kids died in a house fire, but couldn’t “officially” be identified because the dentist scammed medicaid by falsifying thier dental records to get more money.

      And don’t forget about that thing called the Port Authority. Nobody knows what’s going on there.

      As for this tunnel under the Hudson River, it depends on which side of the river your from. Since a large majority of the cost would have been the responsibility of the state of NJ, not NY.

      As for the “unfinished defunct entertainment / mall project in the middle of nowhere” it was approved in 2003 under Gov. McGreevy (D) and went belly up under Gov. Corzine(D).

  8. Lake Lady April 14, 2012 at 7:50 pm #

    Great piece Taylor~

  9. fairmindedindependent April 14, 2012 at 9:07 pm #

    The rich should pay their fair share of taxes, everyone should. Fox News is going after this hard, I always hear the network say “class warfare” I hear that so much from conservatives. Even their Icon Ronald Reagan raised taxes. I also think this is just a election year promises. My dad says the rich will always find away to get out of things and I agree. The rich are going to pour a hugh amount of money to Romney and he will blast the airwaves with campaign ads. I think the VP will be either Christie, Daniels, Rubio. I could be wrong and thats my guess anyway.

  10. JoeCHI April 15, 2012 at 8:21 am #

    Flat-tax, please.

    • Rick Roberts April 15, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

      Flat, progressive tax, please.

  11. LiberalJoe April 15, 2012 at 8:30 am #

    The Buffet Rule tactic-great self preservation politics but I’m not fooled by the rhetoric, from the Pres or the Dems.

    They got courage to no end when there is zero chance of something passing, it’s a tactic they developed after 1994 when they lost both chambers of congress and were in the minority. They’d scream bloody murder on issues they wanted knowing they had no chance of passage.. But when they are in the majority, such as after the 2008 elections with a Dem President all of a sudden when it’s crunch time they slink away from the fight or imposing there will. The Bush tax cuts, the healthcare debate, and other issues I can mention.

    Does anyone here believe that The Buffet Rule would pass with this Congress, does anyone here think if the legislation would pass if after the 2012 elections and the DEms hold the presidency and hold both chambers of Congress, that they would use any procedure possible such as reconciliation in the Senate, that the Buffet Rule would Pass or the expiration of the Bush Tax would be allowed.-I don’t think so.

    Yes teh Pres has done some fine things such as the Auto bailout, but there

  12. LiberalJoe April 15, 2012 at 8:44 am #

    The Buffet Rule tactic-great self preservation politics but I’m not fooled by the rhetoric, from the Pres or the Dems.

    They got courage to no end when there is zero chance of something passing, It’s a tactic they developed after 1994 when they lost both chambers of Congress and were in the minority. They’d scream bloody murder on issues they wanted knowing they had no chance of passage.. But when they are in the majority, such as after the 2008 elections with a Dem President all of a sudden when it’s crunch time they slink away from the fight or imposing there will. The Bush tax cuts, the healthcare debate, Too Big To fail still exists,and other issues I can mention.

    Does anyone here believe that the Buffet Rule would pass with this Congress, does anyone here think if the legislation would pass if after the 2012 elections and the Dems hold the presidency and hold both chambers of Congress, that they would use any ppass or the expiration of the Bush Tax would be allowed.-I don’t think so.

    Yes the Pres has done some fine things such as the Auto bailout, but there are a boatload of other things he has not done because of weak leadership and fear of the fight (aided and abetted by DC Dems) such as the expiration of the Bush tax cuts ,a public option or single payer, the now gutting of Consumer regs, and others.
    This Pres is a moderate Republican and governs accordingly, We should expect further movement to the right by the Dems if Pres Obama is re-elected and Dems hold both houses of Congress-pathetic is what it is.

    Voting to re-elect Pres Obama is a chore I am struggling with. Living in NY I could vote for Topo Gigio , or the Pres could lose 500,000 votes from last election and still carry the state. Frustrating as hell when trying to send a message to The Dem Party that they are a weak less corrupt political party that the Repubs.

    • ladywalker68 April 15, 2012 at 10:12 am #

      Voting to re-elect Pres Obama is a chore I am struggling with. Living in NY I could vote for Topo Gigio , or the Pres could lose 500,000 votes from last election and still carry the state. Frustrating as hell when trying to send a message to The Dem Party that they are a weak less corrupt political party that the Repubs.

      Agreed. In lieu of having a viable 3rd Party candidate, I wish we could at least log a comment when we vote: “Yes, I am voting for you but only because you suck marginally less than the d-i-c-k weasel Republicans.

  13. LiberalJoe April 15, 2012 at 8:46 am #

    sorry about the double post-I was all thumbs, not sure if they are opposeable thumbs at times :)

  14. casualobserver April 15, 2012 at 8:51 am #

    Funny that some are referring to this as the Romney rule. As I read it, it is a simple adjustment to the Alt Min calc, which will eliminate the preference for qualified dividends and cap gains. However, since it preserves charitable contributions as a preference, Romney will still pay a lot less than the 30 percent rate. No wonder Obama and the Dems are referred to as The Gang who couldn’t shoot straight.

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