Republicans to tweak President Obama with 'Buffett Rule' vote before adjourning

Republican leaders will take one last shot before the November election at President Obama's call for higher taxes on the wealthy, by bringing up a bill that would give all Americans the chance to voluntarily contribute more to help pay down the nation's $16 trillion debt.

The House will call up H.R. 3099, the Buffett Rule Act, as early as Wednesday. The legislation borrows the name of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who famously remarked that his secretary pays a higher tax rate than he does.

ADVERTISEMENT
That remark prompted Obama to ask Congress to pass a "Buffett rule," which for Democrats takes the form of a minimum tax rate on the wealthy. Republicans responded by arguing that spending is the problem, not taxes, and that wealthy people who want to be taxed more can already volunteer as much money as they like to the government.

The result of the GOP reaction is their own "Buffett rule," offered by Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), which would add language on personal income tax forms allowing people to donate more money to reduce the debt. The language would read, "By checking here, I signify that in addition to my tax liability (if any), I would like to donate the included payments to be used exclusively for the purpose of paying down the national debt."

Scalise's bill is similar to another bill offered by Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.), which he called the "Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is" Act, a name meant to be a dig at Democrats who call for higher taxes but are not volunteering to pay more by themselves.

While the Scalise bill simply clarifies that taxpayers can pay the IRS more than they owe to help reduce the debt, it could fail in the House this week, given that many Democrats are likely to see the bill as a stunt that dodges what they say is a real need to boost tax revenue. Republicans have a majority in the House, but they are bringing up the bill under a suspension of House rules, which means a two-thirds majority vote will be needed for passage.

To pass the bill under a suspension of the rules, Republicans will need the support of about 45 Democrats, depending on whether all members vote.

Regardless of the outcome in the House, it's unclear whether the Senate would consider the bill before leaving to return to the campaign.

More in News

Hispanic Caucus calls immigration court ruling a 'huge blow'

Read more »