Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Reason #157: The Right Thing To Do

The Buffett Rule, bumping millionaires up to a minimum tax rate of 30%, was never really meant to be a deficit-fighting measure. Tax increases by their very definition, naturally, would do at least a little to close the budget gap, but the reason Warren Buffett brought it up last year, and Sheldon Whitehouse put it into a bill in January, was because it was philosophically a good idea.

Rather than revolutionizing the actual revenue stream, it sets a benchmark for how things should be done. It helps to prevent even worse disparities in the future, for one thing, but even more than that, it enshrines into law--or would if it gets passed--the moral premise that the upper class are at least as responsible for supporting our nation as the lower and middle classes. Like the Civil Rights Act, or the 13th Amendment, it could create an atmosphere that over time would result in other legislation furthering those broad strokes in even better ways.

When Congressional tax analysts, working at the behest of Republican Orrin Hatch, concluded recently that the implementation of the Buffett Rule as legislation would result in a revenue increase of only $31 billion (compared to the $7 trillion deficit), my first reaction was that it's crazy to hear anyone, in any context, talk about "only" $31 billion.

My second reaction was, so what?

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