Senate Democrats are teeing up a vote on the “Buffett Rule” legislation on the eve of Tax Day, and are pledging to push the issue all year as a defining contrast between the parties ahead of the election.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid scheduled the cloture vote for April 16, one day before taxes are due, on legislation that would require people making over $1 million to pay at least 30 percent of their income in taxes.
“We’re going to continue pushing this issue all year long. It’s an emerging contrast with Republicans,” said No. 3 Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer (NY) on a conference call with reporters Thursday. He said Dems intend to hammer the fact that Republicans want to give even bigger tax cuts to high earners while forcing the middle class to hold the bag.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), would raise some $50 billion in revenue, a small fraction of the deficit. Democrats say the issue is also about fairness, echoing Warren Buffett’s argument that millionaires and billionaires shouldn’t be paying lower tax rates than their secretaries.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell scoffed. “This is yet another proposal from Democrats that won’t create a single job or lower the price at the pump by a penny, but may have the opposite effect,” he said.
Schumer said that if the proposal fails to get the 60 votes for cloture this time, Republicans will feel pressure to back down later due to the popularity of the principle.
“Once Gov. Romney gets the nomination, he’s going to have to move much more to the center,” Schumer said. “I think there’s a decent chance we might pass it this year despite what Republicans say now. They’re on the defensive on their signature issue, taxes.”
Sahil Kapur is a congressional reporter for TPM. He previously covered politics and public policy for numerous publications including The Guardian and The Huffington Post. He can be reached at sahil [at] talkingpointsmemo.com.