Monday, September 19, 2011

The Buffett Rule

Here's something that really struck me as bizarre. This is from The New York Times, their article about President Obama's deficit-reduction plan:
Mr. Obama’s proposal is certain to receive sharp criticism from Congressional Republicans, who on Sunday were already taking apart one element of the proposal that the administration let out early: the so-called Buffett Rule. The rule — named for the billionaire investor Warren E. Buffett, who has complained that he is taxed at a lower rate than his employees — calls for a new minimum tax rate for individuals making more than $1 million a year to ensure that they pay at least the same percentage of their earnings as middle-income taxpayers.

That proposal, which was disclosed on Saturday, was met with derision Sunday by Republican lawmakers, who said it amounted to “class warfare”...

So ensuring that the wealthy pay as much as the rest of us is "class warfare"? Tell me how the Republicans can make that sound reasonable, not matter how much Fox "News" repeats it?

Isn't that just the craziest thing you've ever heard? Well, at least since the last time a Republican leader opened his mouth?

PS. You know, there's something else in that article that bugs me a little bit, too. Why do we call Social Security and Medicare "entitlements," as if these are something the elderly don't deserve?

Working Americans pay for these programs. We spend 40 to 50 years paying payroll taxes so that we'll get Social Security and Medicare when we retire. "Entitlements" makes them sound like something we think we deserve, but really don't.

We expect to get Social Security and Medicare because that was part of our implicit contract with the federal government. We held up the contract on our side, and we rightly expect our government to hold to the agreement, too.

That seems reasonable enough, doesn't it? And although "entitlement" is technically accurate, I suppose, it sounds like this is a privilege, not a contractual obligation, not something we've already paid for.

No comments: