‘Buffett Rule' is rejected by Senate in symbolic vote

ByRachel Rose Hartman
April 16, 2012, 7:06 PM

— -- Senate Republicans on Monday voted to block the advancement of "Buffett Rule" legislation, offering Democrats new political fodder as they continue to paint the Republican party as the protectors of America's wealthiest earners at the expense of the middle-class.

"Republicans in Congress would rather end Medicare as we know it and slash education funding than ask the richest of the rich to contribute even a penny more," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said earlier Monday during a Senate floor speech.

Senate Democrats failed to garner the 60 votes required to advance Democratic-backed legislation requiring those earning at least $2 million per year to pay an income tax rate of at least 30 percent. That rate increase would be phased in for those making $1 million or more under the proposed legislation.

The president and Democrats in Washington have been pushing to put the "Buffett Rule" (named after billionaire Warren Buffett) to a vote in recent weeks to drive a wedge between the parties. The president on Friday released his 2011 tax filings which showed the president pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.

Both sides expected Monday's vote to fail-- turning it into a mostly symbolic action.

Republicans have consistently argued that the "Buffett Rule" amounts to nothing more than a tax hike on America's high-income earners. They argue it could further stymie economic growth and it has not been shown to help decrease the deficit or create jobs in any way.

"By wasting so much time on this political gimmick that even Democrats admit won't solve our larger problems, it's shown the President is more interested in misleading people than he is in leading," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a speech Monday.

President Obama last Wednesday defended the Buffett Rule, saying in a speech that just because it won't close the deficit, "doesn't mean that we shouldn't do it at all."

The measure would raise an estimated $47 billion over 10 years.

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