Priebus: Obama using ‘shiny objects’ like Buffett Rule to distract, divide voters

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus said President Obama is using “shiny objects,” such as the Buffet Rule, to distract voters from his record.

“People once they see what this is all about, once they see what this whole strategy of Barack Obama’s all about – it’s all about dividing and conquering,” Priebus told Candy Crowley on CNN’s State of the Union. “Now this is, and we all know what this is, this is a shiny object that Barack Obama wants the country to look at, which as you know if you add it up, every dollar of revenue that this little rule would put into place…it would add up to paying for 11 hours of the federal government.”

Democrats have recently acknowledged that the Buffett Rule, which sets a minimum tax rate for individuals with incomes of $2 million or more and phases that rate in for incomes between $1 million and $2 million, won't solve the budget issue, but say it is merely a fair way to increase revenues toward that end, and is a necessary step in repairing trust in the free markets at a time when wealth disparity between America’s top earners and the middle class has increased.

The rule dovetails with President Obama’s campaign message on income inequality, and with Senate Democrats planning a Monday vote on the rule that has wide public support, Republicans have denounced it as an election-year political ploy.

“Why is it that the president is using all of this time, 23 appearances, Air Force One, bringing it on the floor of the Senate, when these same Democrats haven’t passed a single budget in over 1,100 days?,” Priebus asked.

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“This is Obama’s strategy. Look over here at this shiny object, don’t look at the big picture, don’t look at the economy on the brink that I didn’t do a thing about and made worse.”

Democrats have also used the Buffett Rule to hit Romney on his personal income taxes. Romney has released his 2010 returns and an estimate for 2011, which show he paid an effective tax rate of about 14 percent.

On Friday, shortly after the White House released tax returns from President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, Romney filed for an extension, which his campaign said is routine.

Also on Friday, White House adviser David Plouffe urged Romney to release his 2011 returns immediately, to show that “he’s got nothing to hide.”

Priebus again denounced this as a distraction from the real issues.

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“Talk about an irony coming from the Obama administration that doesn’t want to talk about Solyndra, that is going to plead the fifth on this GSA debacle and now – another shiny object, let’s talk about tax returns about Mitt Romney,” Priebus said. “First of all, Mitt Romney released his 2010 tax returns, he released the estimate of his 2011 tax returns, what we’re talking about is an extension to file paper work.”

“Again what we’re talking about is the tactic of this president to talk about tax returns and a Buffett Rule when in reality we have bigger issues to talk about. This election won’t come down to a tax return, this election will come down to the state of the economy and how Barack Obama failed this country.”

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This story was updated at 12:32 p.m.