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Posted at 03:08 PM ET, 09/19/2011

Obama invokes new middle-class hero: Warren Buffett’s secretary

He — or she — is destined to be the breakout star of this fall’s budget debate: Warren Buffett’s secretary.

We don’t know the actual identity of the gatekeeper to the legendary Oracle of Omaha, but whoever it is has become President Obama’s metaphor for the ordinary middle-class Americans who needs a fair shake from the government.

“Warren Buffett’s secretary shouldn’t pay a higher tax rate than Warren Buffett. There’s no justification for it,” President Obama insisted while pitching his $4 trillion deficit reduction plan in the Rose Garden on Monday.

A key provision in the president’s plan is called the “Buffett Rule,” because it was first proposed by the billionaire investor. Obama is proposing a new minimum tax rate for millionaires, who would not be able to use write-offs and loopholes to pay at a lesser rate than middle-class Americans. It’s an idea that has met resistance from Republicans and some Democrats in Congress.

Now, Warren Buffett’s secretary has a new video dedicated to him/her. Produced by liberal activist group MoveOn.Org, the video shows actors doing ordinary jobs — secretary, nurse, policeman — proclaiming “I am Warren Buffett’s secretary” and explaining that they pay at a higher tax rate than millionaires and billionaires.

“Most Americans want Congress to raise taxes on the wealthy,” the policeman says.

MoveOn began producing the video after Buffett wrote an op-ed in the New York Times on Aug. 14 titled “Stop Coddling the Super-Rich,” a spokesman for the group said. The group planned to use the video to pressure Congress to reform the tax code this fall but moved up the release date to coincide with Obama’s address Monday.

This is not the first time that an ordinary American worker has been elevated to the national political spotlight. In 2008, Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher was videotaped asking then-presidential candidate Obama about his tax policy for small businesses.

The Republican McCain-Palin campaign then invoked “Joe the Plumber” as a metaphor for ordinary working Americans.

“It is wrong that in the United States of America, a teacher or a nurse or a construction worker who earns $50,000 should pay higher tax rates than somebody pulling in $50 million,” Obama said Monday. “Anybody who says we can’t change the tax code to correct that, anyone who has signed some pledge to protect every single tax loophole so long as they live, they should be called out. They should have to defend that unfairness — explain why somebody who’s making $50 million a year in the financial markets should be paying 15 percent on their taxes, when a teacher making $50,000 a year is paying more than that — paying a higher rate. They ought to have to answer for it.”

By  |  03:08 PM ET, 09/19/2011

 
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