Bloomberg: Buffett Rule is just 'theatrics'

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg criticized the president’s push to raise taxes on wealthy Americans, calling the so-called Buffett Rule “theatrics.”

“I think it's not fair to say that wealthy people don't pay their fair share. They pay a much higher percentage of income. They have a higher rate than people who make less,” Bloomberg said on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday.

“The Buffett thing is theatrics. If Warren made his money from ordinary income rather than capital gains, his tax rate would be a lot higher than his secretaries. And in fact a very small percentage of people in this country pay a big chunk of the taxes,” he added.

Bloomberg said that tax increases should be borne by all. “If you are going to raise taxes, you are going to have to raise taxes on everybody. I would suggest 2 percent or 3 percent on everybody,” proposed Bloomberg. “For the average person that's $150. For the wealthy, it's a lot of money. But that's the only way you're going to get something through Congress.”

The so-called “Buffett Rule” which is guiding the president’s tax policies says that millionaires should not pay a lower percentage of their income on taxes than middle class Americans. The principle is named after billionaire investor Warren Buffett who has long pushed for higher taxes on the wealthy. Like Buffett, Mayor Bloomberg, the owner of Bloomberg L.P., is a billionaire.

The Buffett Rule has led to criticism from Republicans. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) labelled it “class warfare” and many GOP lawmakers, led by Sen. John Cornyn (Texas) have called for Warren Buffett to make public his own tax returns.

“If he’s going to be the gold standard, so to speak, in terms of what our tax policy should be, yeah, let’s look at [his tax returns],” Cornyn told ABC News on Thursday.

“You have to take away some of the tax breaks from the wealthy and you have to cut back on some entitlements. Because unless we do all of these things, it just doesn't work,” said Bloomberg to NBC host David Gregory

“What's good theater and what's politics isn't necessarily good economic policy,” he said. “I think that it's more than a sound bite economic policy. And we should look at the real data is rather than just go and say one guy pays more than his secretary or doesn't.”

Bloomberg said consumers and businesses didn’t have “any confidence,” in part because of Washington "partisanship."

“We are a few days, a week away from shutting down the government, again. It spooked us a month ago. It's going to spook us now. People have no confidence that Washington, both sides of the aisle, both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue are coming together and trying to do what's right for the economy,” said Bloomberg.

Turning his attention to the 2012 race, Bloomberg said that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) would be a “credible, formidable candidate.”

“He's been a good governor in New Jersey. He's shaken things up in a state that's had problems that have gone on and on and on,” he said.

Reports Friday said the governor was reconsidering a run for president as Republican donors pressured him to enter the field.

Bloomberg who ran for reelection for mayor as an independent also downplayed the likelihood of a third-party candidacy in 2012.

“I've always thought a third party candidate is not a viable candidate and I'm certainly not going to be one,” he said.

Bloomberg said that despite the high unemployment rate, Obama was a “very viable candidate” and predicted “a real horserace here no matter who the Republican nominee is.”