The Buffett Rule: Why are we even having this conversation?

Shortly after I hung up from my “Buffett Rule” call with the Obama for America representatives, a friend asked me why we were even having this conversation.

She meant that as: who objects to a fair and equitable tax structure?

Two of my fellow callers had the same thought beneath their questions.

There are a lot of really good reasons why we are having this conversation and the big one is: to share facts and figures and information about how beneficial a fair and equitable tax structure can be for our recovering economy.

So let me breakdown and break out some key economic points about our nation’s business, economy, deficit and income, with some compelling details from Democratic National Committee Chair Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Obama for America Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter, who led the call.

This call targeted women, and other than one Obama campaign policy expert named Jacob, the call was comprised entirely of women, chiefly small business owners and entrepreneurs. As Cutter said, women owned business make up 30% of small business and net 1.2 trillion annually in sales. Women are taking the lead. They are over 50% of the workforce, and play large and growing role in economic future.

Women have choices in investing in the future: we can ask the middle to pay more or ask wealthy to pay fair share. The Obama Administration subscribes to a “grow the middle up and out and create a stable, not bubble, and sound economy” model. The “Buffett Rule” is the President’s solution. “Do we want to keep giving tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans like me, or Warren Buffett, or Bill Gates – people who don’t need them and never asked for them? Or do we want to keep investing in things that will grow our economy and keep us secure? Because we can’t afford to do both.” President Obama on why the Buffett Rule is important.

As the image above shows, implementing the Buffett Rule will have an immediate and broad positive effect. To put it in another way, consider education. Applying the Buffett Rule to just one millionaire could pay for 5400 students to attend college via Pell Grants, said Cutter. She added that conversely, tax cuts would increase debt and cut key programs such as preventive health care and education.

Rep Wasserman Shultz laid out the stakes in this year’s election. She said when you look at the incredible contrast between Obama and Romney, it underscores key issues such as women and work life balance. She said the last thing we need is turning back the clock; we need a leader who is committed to helping women shatter that ceiling for once and for all. In contrast to Obama, she said GOP candidate Mitt Romney is not as committed to bettering the economic welfare of women and their families. Romney, she said, wants a sharp turn to the right. Today, media asked Romney staff if he supports Lilly Ledbetter, which was the first bill President Obama signed into law. It’s economic security for millions of American women and their families. Romney’s aids were silent for 6 seconds then said, “We’ll get back to you” and later said Romney does not have plans to change existing laws. Rep Wasserman Shultz reiterated that it’s essential for economic recovery to ensure that women have equal pay and thus any candidate ought to immediately be able to commit to supporting this protection.

“We can either continue moving forward as a nation or let the GOP drag us back to same failed policies of the past. We can fight for Buffett and give everyone fair shot,” she said.

For what we could afford to do if we eliminated tax breaks for millionaires, check here. This tool will let you see the effect the Buffett Rule will have, protecting earned benefits such as Medicare and crucial services such as education. It will also outline the broad, bipartisan support from key economic leaders.

Question and Answers

Will the Buffett Rule adversely affect small businesses as they grow?

Morra Aarons-Mele asked about women and entrepreneurship: a lot of women like to think about opportunities to earn as business owners, and women worry about unfair tax, so how do we talk to women with big dreams and who are high earners about the Buffett Rule and that it doesn’t unfairly punish them?

Stephanie Cutter said, “This isn’t about raising someone’s taxes or income inequality, this is about fairness and paying fair share so we can grow and sustain the middle class, which is the backbone of a sound economy, instead of supporting and growing the top with the hope that it will trickle down. The President believes in growing from the middle up, because it is more viable. This lets us invest in things that make our country strong, such as education, that business owners rely on.”

Jacob added that the overwhelming number of small businesses are unaffected, because less than 2% exceed the income cutoff, and most are compliant already. He said that the President already signed into law 18 tax cuts and there will be more going forward, including a 10% cut for small business.

How will the Buffett Rule work overall with deficit reduction?

My question was: There’s a lot of noise about how the Buffett rule on millionaires only won’t raise all the revenues we need to plug the deficit. Is this just one prong in the team’s financial plan (i.e., is this in addition to letting the Bush tax cuts expire)?

Stephanie Cutter said, “Absolutely, it is one piece. It will help reduce the deficit by 4 trillion.”

Rep. Wasserman Shultz said, “In contrast, the Ryan Budget provides more and significant tax breaks for the wealthy and increases taxes on middle class, and Romney supports this. If you keep doing same thing over and over and expect different results, that’s been tested and we know what happens, and what the definition of this is. We need a balanced approach to get our fiscal house in order.”

Cutter is right: the Buffett Rule is one prong of an overall budget. Obviously a tax plan is just one piece of a larger strategy. You can read more about the President’s record on taxes, and should also review the budget blueprint for 2013.

What should we say to people when they think we are in bad place even after these changes have been implemented?

Heather Barmore provided a solid follow-up regarding how to discuss the recovering economy, deficit reduction, and concerns about the Buffett Rule.

Stephanie Cutter said, “We’ve had 25 months of growth; we’ve turned a corner but we’re not done yet. We need to restore the middle class, and build an economy meant to last (not a bubble) by building American goods and products to ship around the world. There have been four million jobs created, but this is not a time to take our foot off the pedal. We can’t cut our way to prosperity, we have to keep investing. You can expect party line voting on the Buffett Rule. Still, it’s important to voice your support.”

Rep. Wasserman Shultz said, “I couldn’t agree with you more, Stephanie. Don’t take our word for it. During hearings on the Ryan Budget, we asked experts such as Bernanke and Geither whether we risk slowing recovery if we cut too much too fast and they each gave a very cautionary tale of how focusing exclusively on cuts and cutting to prosperity is a dangerous path, particularly after 25 months of recovery. That is still fragile, but putting on the brakes can shake that. Listen to these experts.”

Additional resources from the Obama campaign:

The Obama campaign launched a comprehensive website explaining what the Buffett rule does and why it’s so important for America. Visit it here.

· What would the Buffett Rule do? Look at all the programs we could fund if we eliminated tax breaks for millionaires.

Check out everyone who has called for tax fairness – from Warren Buffett to Ronald Reagan.

For more information on the Buffett Rule, please click here.

For why it’s important, you can reference this site.

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Copyright 2012 MOMocrats.com

Author: Julie Pippert

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