The Washington Post

‘Buffett Tax’ and truth in numbers
The Washington Post

In September, the Congressional Budget Office estimated the 10-year deficit at $8.5 trillion. The nonpartisan Tax Foundation estimates that a Buffett Tax might now raise $40 billion annually. Citizens for Tax Justice, a liberal group, estimates $50 billion. With economic growth, the 10-year total might optimistically be $600 billion to $700 billion. It would be a tiny help; that’s all. “The purpose of the Buffett Rule is not to close the deficit gap,” Buffett has said. Hard choices remain, in part because existing deficit estimates already assume steep defense cuts.

It’s also a myth that all the ultra-rich enjoy low tax rates. In 2007, the richest 1 percent of taxpayers paid an average tax rate of 29.5 percent and provided 28.1 percent of federal revenues, reports the CBO. On their wages and salaries, many of the ultra-rich pay the top income tax rate of 35 percent plus a Medicare tax of 1.45 percent.

So, raise tax rates on Warren Buffett and others to upper-middle-class levels. But recognize that the anti-wealthy populist rhetoric is mostly political expediency. It distracts from the serious issues the country faces — creating jobs and closing long-term budget deficits.