Monday, September 19, 2011

The Buffett Rule

When I was in college--oh so many moons ago--in Miami, listening to Jimmy Buffet music was a pretty common thing, especially at the beach and during trips to the Keys. I say "listening," but that's not really accurate, since pretty much everyone was singing along with one Buffet song after another. "Margaritaville" was easily the most popular. Everyone knew every word. And if they didn't, they damn well had to fake it. That was the Buffet Rule: sing along or else. 'Course, there really wasn't an "or else," just a few playful jeers or the like. Good memories.

Today, the President is unveiling his plan to cut the deficit. Supposedly, it will be composed mostly of tax increases and changes to the tax codes, along with savings from the draw down of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. But included in the tax increase portion of the plan is a new Buffet Rule: a provision to make sure people with over $1 million in income pay a "fair" tax rate. Kind of like an AMT for millionaires, it would seem. And obviously, it's not named after Jimmy Buffet, but rather Warren Buffet.

According to Micheal Falcone at ABC, the Rule is a simple principle:
...it stipulates that Americans earning more $1 million a year pay at least the same share of their income in taxes as middle-class families.
That sounds pretty reasonable, no? There's no reason that--given an income tax system based on  percentage of income--some should get away with paying a lower rate (sound familiar?). But wait, that's not really the justification here. It's little more nuanced than that. A lower rate is actually okay for some, but not for others. The some? Lower incomes. The others? The rich. Class warfare, once again.

But in the spirit of true fairness, I'd like to offer my own version of the Buffet Rule: Warren Buffet--alone--shall not pay a lower tax rate than any other American, period. That's fair, right?

Cheers, all.

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