The result of this fact is simple: without a strong middle class there isn’t a strong America, nor is there a strong economy.

The overwhelming source of job creation is not the very rich – it is the middle class and small businesses. An empowered middle class wielding a larger checkbook is a far better job creator than a handful of the wealthy elite. A few dozen very wealthy shoppers will never be able to buy as many new clothes or purchase as many new cars collectively as tens of millions of working class families. A middle class with a stronger purchasing power will create tens of thousands of jobs not on Wall Street, but Main Street, in places like Schenectady, NY.

The Buffet Rule would take us one step closer to reviving America’s main streets. It would limit the degree to which the best-off can take advantage of tax expenditures and preferential rates on certain income. In a time when all Americans are being asked to come together to make shared sacrifices to allow our country to make investments in the future and grow the economy, we cannot allow the very rich to continue receiving giveaways from the federal government at the expense of everyone else.

The Bush tax expenditures of 2001 and 2003 weren’t free – someone had to pay for them. The undue influence that those with deep pockets have on Congress has meant that everyone but the extremely well off are left picking up the bill.

But passage of the Buffet Rule represents an opportunity to change that. While it won’t fully offset the cost of massive tax cuts, two wars and a prescription drug loophole that caused the debt to balloon out of control, the Buffet Rule is a step towards restoring fair, fiscal soundness. 

The American Dream used to mean that if you put in a hard day’s work you could expect decent wages, benefits and a better life for your kids. The Buffet Rule represents a strong step in the direction of restoring that dream to our nation’s middle class.

Rep. Tonko (D-N.Y.) represents New York's 21st district.