President Obama traveled to Florida yesterday to distract the nation from its real problems by laying out his case for the Buffett Rule, a plan to drastically raise taxes on successful Americans and small businesses. The core of his argument is that the rich aren’t paying their fair share. It makes for great populist rhetoric, especially when families are hurting and angry under today’s high unemployment, but the result is terrible policy. Worse, it’s a distraction from the big issues facing the nation, like the deficit, the economy, jobs, gas prices, health care, and on and on, none of which are addressed by the President’s proposals, and none of which he wants to talk about.
Will the President’s tax hike at least tackle the country’s fiscal problems? No, it won’t.
According to a recent analysis by the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, the Buffett Rule would raise a mere $47 billion over ten years. Meanwhile, President Obama’s budget calls for adding $6.7 trillion to the national debt. That means that the Buffett Rule will only cover one half of one percent of the President’s new spending. Soaking the rich cannot get deficits down, only spending reductions can do that.
When it comes to the biggest problem America is facing — a weak economy and high unemployment — the Buffett Rule would weaken the economy and make matters worse. Heritage’s J.D. Foster and Curtis Dubay write that the tax would fall most heavily on job creators (who pay taxes at the individual rate) and confiscate their resources that would otherwise be used to start new businesses, grow existing businesses, and hire more workers. As a result, economic growth will slow down right along with job creation.