Thursday, November 17, 2011

The GOP Needs To Call Buffett's Bluff

 AP Photo By Nati Harnik, File
Despite being part of the eviiil 1%, Warren Buffett is held in high esteem by progressives because he wants Congress to raise his taxes. Whenever he has a chance, he bemoans the unfairness of the tax code which collects more from him than his secretary (give her some Berkshire stock already!).

Nevermind that Buffett does not have to wait on Congress to act to give more money to Uncle Sam. The US Treasury has a link set up for anyone who wants to contribute to reducing the national debt. But why exercise this option when Buffett can win accolades just for saying he wants his taxes raised while hiring tax attorneys and accountants and pay as little as possible?!

Bill Gates followed Buffett's lead in asking for his taxes to be raised. On Wednesday a group of millionaires urged Congress to raise their taxes. Who can blame them? Thanks to Norquist's No Tax Pledge it must seem a pretty safe bet that their taxes won't be increased. And it is okay to be the 1% as long as one appears to feel guilty about it.

Polls show that a majority of Americans support higher taxes on millionaires. The Democrats - with the help of sympathetic media - are doing a masterful job portraying Republicans as sacrificing jobs for the middle class at the altar of tax cuts for the rich. This is not a winning hand for the GOP. And for what? In 2008 voters with incomes of $200K or more preferred Obama to McCain 52%-46%.

Other than keeping Norquist and talk radio happy, there is absolutely no advantage for the GOP to resist the call to raise taxes on millionaires. None. Millionaires are not part of the Republican constituency (as evidenced by exit polls). And Republicans can count on Buffett to continue asking for his taxes to be increased. There is no upside for the GOP. Call his bluff.