Monday, April 16, 2012

the buffett rule, and other rules

Today the Senate will decide whether to let the Buffett Rule legislation proceed to the floor of that chamber for a vote. And I can tell you in advance it ain't gonna happen.

The Buffett Rule proposes that middle-class taxpayers pay federal income tax at a lower rate than rich ones. It would raise taxes for the wealthy, and lower them for working people. Currently, Mr. Buffett's secretary pays the tax at a rate nearly double that paid by her billionaire boss, so the fairness of this legislation is intuitively obvious. But not to the millionaires in the US Senate.

According to the Senate rules, moving the measure to the floor for debate requires 61 votes, and there are only 54 Democrats. They would need seven Republicans to cross over to get it to the floor, and they probably won't get one. So then they'll shrug and say "We tried."

No more of this nonsense. The Democrats have had a majority in the Senate for years now, and it's within their power to force a rules change. They don't, because they like the rules the way they are now. They can blame the Republicans for everything, and get plausible deniability at the same time.

The fact is, most of our Democratic senators don't want the Buffett Rule any more than their Republican opponents. Don't be taken in by the show, as this absolutely vital and necessary tax plan goes down to a 54-46 "defeat."

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