Joe Biden is set to give a speech today on the Buffett Rule, and the battle over it will continue raging through next week’s Senate vote on the measure and beyond. So let’s get started with this interesting piece by David Fahrenthold and David Nakamura, which gets to the heart of what the debate over the Buffett Rule and the Paul Ryan plan is really about. Who should sacrifice more to fix the deficit that conservatives say is a threat to American life as we know it?
Should the wealthy chip in a bit more than they do now, or should we transfer some of their share of the burden down the income scale to everyone else? Or as William Gale of the Tax Policy Center puts it:
“The moral argument is: Who should bear the burden of the cost of government?” Gale said. “Ryan is moving the burden down the income spectrum. The Buffett plan is moving the burden up the income spectrum.”
Another way to put this: Democrats want to increase the amount the wealthy contribute towards deficit reduction, while Republicans want to reduce the amount the wealthy contribute towards deficit reduction. Republicans offer various justifications for this — the rich are already bearing an inordinately large share of the tax burden; we shouldn’t raise taxes on “job creators”; etc. — but it’s worth reiterating that reducing the amount the wealthy pay towards the deficit is the basic policy goal here.
Democrats are hoping to make tax fairness central to Campaign 2012. But they still need to make an effective case that this is all about choices and priorities, about who should pay more to solve our fiscal problems, and about who will pay more if the wealthy see their burden decreased.
* Biden to pillory “Romney Rule”: Along those lines, here’s the key passage from the advance exerpts of the speech Biden will give today:
There’s a stark choice we have to make. The Buffett Rule says that multi-millionaires should pay at least the same percentage of their income in taxes as middle-class families do. The Romney Rule says the very wealthy should keep the tax cuts and loopholes they have, and get an additional, new tax cut every year that is worth more than what the average middle class family makes in an entire year.
As far as I know, the first person to use the phrase “Romney Rule” was Paul Begala. In an interview with this blog, he defined it this way: “millionaires like Mitt should pay a lower tax rate than maids.”
* No, the focus on inequality is not about the Dem base: Ari Berman has a needed corrective: The push against inequality and tax unfairness is every bit as much about appealing to independents as it is about appealing to the Dem base. No matter how many times people claim otherwise, polling in fact shows that indys and moderates respond well to, and are not alienated by, liberal economic populism.
* Reporters begin focusing on the Big Lie: As I’ve been saying, the dust-up over Mitt Romney’s bogus female job loss claim highlights a far larger “net” job loss falsehood that’s central to Romney’s whole argument, and Politico’s Ben White gets this exactly right:
The bulk of all job losses under Obama took place in the early months of 2009 before the president’s policies took effect. They were the last of the over 8 million jobs vaporized by the housing bubble burst, financial crisis and subsequent Great Recession. That these losses happened during the early months of Obama’s presidency and not under George W. Bush is simply a quirk of the calendar, not the result of any actual policy.
Yet Romney has been repeating misleading figures about the “net” job loss on Obama’s watch in countless forums for months now, with little to no rebuttal from any news outlets.
* Chart of the day: Kevin Drum has a great one unmasking the dishonesty of the Romney camp’s female job loss claim.
* Obama’s out-of-context use of Reagan quote: Obama has been widely using a quote from Reagan in which he seemed to be endorsing the "concept” behind the Buffett Rule. But as Glenn Kessler notes today, the quote has been ripped out of its larger context, which shows that Reagan was pushing for a broad based tax cut across the board.
The use of the quote is all about painting today’s GOP as far to the right of where it was under Reagan, but it just doesn’t really make the point.
* Question of the day: The New York Times edit board asks the right question about Romney, the Lily Ledbetter Act, and Scott Walker’s rollback of Wisconsin’s equal pay law:
If Mr. Romney is elected and a Republican-led Congress presents him with a bill overturning the Ledbetter act, would he sign it, following the path of his hero, Mr. Walker? That question went unanswered, just as the campaign never said whether it supported Mr. Walker’s repeal.
Romney’s campaign has said he is "not looking to change current law,” but it’s still unclear whether he would veto or refuse to sign any repeal of the law passed by a GOP-controlled Congress.
* Even Republicans oppose Afghan war: For the first time in Post polling, a majority of Republicans say the war in Afghanistan was not worth fighting. Key takeaway: With Romney still saying our goal should be to win, this raises questions about how politically effective his chest-thumping will be at a time when the American people are weary of war.
* Repealing Obamacare would have actual consequences: It’s unclear whether this will be a factor in the Supreme Court justices’ deliberations, but as Adam Serwer details, striking down the law could have terrible consequences for real people who are already in very difficult situations.
* Are gas prices about to come down? Industry analysts make the case, and that would certainly be welcome news to Obama advisers, who see real danger in the possibility that high gas prices could deprive him of credit for the recovery, presuming it doesn’t sputter.
* Dems hope Ryancare 2.0 again makes good political weapon: The DCCC is going up with billboards in the districts of 14 vulnerable House Republicans hitting them for favoring “millionaires over Medicare,” the Dem capsule argument against the GOP budget and Medicare plan.
Along with the Buffett Rule push, the campaign against Ryancare 2.0 shows that Dems are going full throttle with their effort to make the elections about priorities and values, rather than the state of the economy on Election Day 2012.
* And behold the Breitbartization of the conservative media: Paul Waldman takes a look at some less-than-impressive conservative media offerings, and concludes:
This is the Breitbartization of journalism, in which the only goal is to embarrass liberals, because, you know, screw you, hippie.