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Buffett Rule would barely dent debt but fits nicely into Obama's theme
April 16th, 2012
11:06 AM ET

Buffett Rule would barely dent debt but fits nicely into Obama's theme

By Candy Crowley, CNN Chief Political Correspondent

Washington (CNN) - Spoiler alert: The Senate on Monday will not get the 60 votes needed to move ahead with the so-called Buffett Rule, which makes critics think the White House spent a week pushing it just to make a political point.

Shocking, we know.

It's also the kind of icky suggestion serious treasury secretaries don't like to talk about.

"I don't know - I've heard that concern, but I don't understand it. I mean, just because they oppose this doesn't mean it's not the right thing to do," Timothy Geithner said on CBS' "Face the Nation."

A minimum 30% tax on million-dollar incomes won't do much to eat away at the nation's debt, it won't create jobs, and no one expects it to get through the Democratic-controlled Senate, much less the Republican-majority House.

Republicans say the Buffet Rule is a giant political smokescreen.

"This is Obama's strategy: 'Look over here at this shiny object here. Don't look at the big picture, an economy on the brink that I didn't do a thing about and made things worse.' That's what this is about," Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told me on "State of the Union."

Whatever it is or isn't, the Buffett Rule is definitely killer politics.

In the latest Gallup poll, 60% of adults favor it and 37% oppose it, which is to say the Buffett Rule is made to order for President Barack Obama's election year fairness theme.

"What really irks a lot of Americans is the idea that people who are extremely well-off are able to use tax planning, tax accounting, parking money, arranging all their income to be at preferential rates, so that the most well-off people in our society can actually end up paying less than a lot of middle-income families, who are struggling to make ends meet," Gene Sperling, the director of the president's National Economic Council, said on CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS."

Expect the Buffett Rule in the Senate to go down with a lot of observations about Republicans favoring the rich.

In something like mirror-image legislation, days after the Senate rejects the Buffett tax hike on millionaires, the House is expected to move on a proposed 20% tax cut for small businesses.

The measure will pass the Republican-controlled House with lots of observations about Democrats who would rather grow government than small businesses.

The bill has no chance of passing the Senate, leading critics to suggest Republicans are trying to score a political point.

Shocking, we know.

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Filed under: 2012 • Candy Crowley • Taxes
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