During tonight’s State of the Union, President Obama — noting that one quarter of millionaires are able to pay less in taxes than millions of middle class families — called for a minimum 30 percent income tax rate for millionaires. Obama also took on the favorite Republican talking point that calling for millionaires to pay their fair share in taxes is “class warfare”:
Tax reform should follow the Buffett rule: If you make more than $1 million a year, you should not pay less than 30 percent in taxes…Now, you can call this class warfare all you want. But asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as his secretary in taxes? Most Americans would call that common sense.
We don’t begrudge financial success in this country. We admire it. When Americans talk about folks like me paying my fair share of taxes, it’s not because they envy the rich. It’s because they understand that when I get tax breaks I don’t need and the country can’t afford, it either adds to the deficit, or somebody else has to make up the difference – like a senior on a fixed income; or a student trying to get through school; or a family trying to make ends meet. That’s not right. Americans know it’s not right.
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Even before the President’s speech ended, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) had posted a statement deriding the Buffett rule as a “political gimmick.” “Because the president clearly cannot run on his record, he has regrettably turned to the politics of envy and division,” Boehner’s statement read.
Earlier in the speech, President Obama also called for a mortgage refinancing plan, paid for by a new fee on the largest banks in the country. “I’m sending this Congress a plan that gives every responsible homeowner the chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgage, by refinancing at historically low interest rates,” Obama said. “No more red tape. No more runaround from the banks. A small fee on the largest financial institutions will ensure that it won’t add to the deficit, and will give banks that were rescued by taxpayers a chance to repay a deficit of trust.”