Senator-elect Tammy Baldwin wants Buffett Rule included in deficit talks

Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin’s Democratic senator-elect, wants President Barack Obama to include increased tax rates for the richest Americans in deficit talks.

Baldwin and Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, who sponsored the proposal known as the Buffett Rule in the House and Senate this year, sent a letter to Obama asking that a minimum 30 percent tax rate for “multi-million-dollar earners.”

Baldwin, who fended off charges that she was an extreme liberal during the Senate race, made the Buffett Rule a core item in her campaign. But it’s unclear how far her request will get — Republicans and Democrats are sparring over whether a package of tax cuts passed during former President George W. Bush’s administration should expire, be extended for everyone or just on the first $250,000 in personal income.

Baldwin and Whitehouse argue the Buffett Rule is a “safeguard” for the nation’s economy:

“In addition to letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire for incomes above $250,000 as you have pledged to do, we believe it is imperative to enact a safeguard to ensure that the highest-earning Americans cannot subvert the progressivity of the tax code through loopholes and special rates not available to middle-class families. In addition to serving as that safeguard, our Paying a Fair Share Act would reduce the deficit by $47 billion, helping to avoid more painful budget options.”

The full text:

November 29, 2012

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500

Re: Paying a Fair Share Act

Dear Mr. President:

As you continue to negotiate with Congressional Leaders on a compromise to avert automatic tax rate increases and funding cuts, we write to urge you to include our Paying a Fair Share Act in any deal. This legislation, which a majority of Senators voted to advance last April, would implement the so-called “Buffett Rule” by requiring multi-million-dollar earners to pay at least a 30% effective federal tax rate.

In remarks on April 11, 2012 urging Members of Congress to support our bill, you noted that, “one in four millionaires pays a lower tax rate than millions of hardworking middle-class households.” Such inequity, inexcusable at any time, has been compounded by the funding cuts in the Budget Control Act, which fall disproportionately on programs that help lower-income and middle-class families.

In addition to letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire for incomes above $250,000 as you have pledged to do, we believe it is imperative to enact a safeguard to ensure that the highest-earning Americans cannot subvert the progressivity of the tax code through loopholes and special rates not available to middle-class families. In addition to serving as that safeguard, our Paying a Fair Share Act would reduce the deficit by $47 billion, helping to avoid more painful budget options.

We know the task of negotiating a deficit-reduction deal is difficult, and we commend the work you have done so far. We once again urge you to champion the “Buffett Rule” in your negotiations and stand ready to assist you in any way we can.

Sincerely,

U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

U.S. Senator-elect Tammy Baldwin

About Kathleen Foody

Investigative reporter for Gannett Wisconsin Media, based in Wausau. Follow me on Twitter @katie_foody, Facebook www.facebook.com/kathleenfoodywdh or e-mail at kfoody@gannett.com.
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