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GOP Accuses Obama of Waging 'Class Warfare' with 'Buffett Rule' Tax Proposal

Warren Buffett
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Warren Buffett

Republicans are accusing President Obama of waging "class warfare" with his proposal for a new "Buffett Rule" that would create a minimum tax rate for anyone making more than one million dollars a year.

Administration officials tell the New York Timesa minimum tax rate for millionaires will be "prominent" in the deficit reduction plan to be outlined by Mr. Obama at the White House tomorrow (Monday) morning. The president won't, however, propose a specific rate or other details.

Buffett has been arguing for higher tax rates on the super-rich for years, but seemed to hit a nerve and touch off renewed debatewith his August 14 Times op-ed calling on Congress to "Stop Coddling the Super-Rich."

Jackie Calmes of the Times reports today the administration's decision to name the proposal after Buffett is a "bit of political salesmanship" that "adds a new and populist feature to Mr. Obama's effort to raise the political pressure on Republicans to agree to higher revenues from the wealthy in return for Democrats' support of future cuts from Medicare and Medicaid."

Republicans are already highly critical of the planned proposal, which would replace the current Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). Appearing on Fox News Sunday, House Budget Committee chairmanPaul Ryan accused the president of appealing to "fear, envy, and anxiety" among Americans. "Class warfare ... may make for really good politics, but it makes for rotten economics," he argued, because "if you tax something more, you get less of it. If you tax job creators more, you get less job creation. If you tax their investment more, you get less investment."

On NBC's Meet the Press, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell dismissed the idea as already rejected by Congress and "a bad thing to do in the middle of an economic downturn."

And, in a repeat of what's become a familiar argument from critics, McConnell suggested that if Buffett is "feeling guilty" about his tax rate he should "send in a check" to the Treasury.

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