President Barack Obama and other Democrats are aggressively pushing the so-called Buffett Rule this week, but Virginia Senate candidate Tim Kaine thinks his party should aim for more -- about $500 billion more from the Bush-era tax cuts.
Not that Kaine thinks there's anything wrong with the Buffett Rule, which seeks to raise $47 billion over 10 years by taxing individuals who earn $1 million or more at rates up to 30 percent. The idea is that millionaires should not be able to pay a lower overall tax rate than their secretaries, as is the case with billionaire Warren Buffett.
Speaking on a local radio show Thursday, Kaine agreed with the host that arguing for the Buffett Rule, worthy as it might be, was "tripping over dollar bills to get pennies," when ending the Bush tax cuts, which have been extended through 2012, would cut $4 trillion from the deficit.
Kaine wants the Bush cuts maintained for some upper middle-class taxpayers. But "if you let the Bush tax cuts expire over 500,000 [dollars in annual income], that's more than $500 billion of deficit reduction," Kaine said on WINA 1070 AM. "What worries me is that they're going to have a big fight about the Buffett Rule, and they'll have a big fight over some other little one-off that somebody throws on table, and they'll get to year-end and they won't have talked about the issue that is on the table that needs a resolution, that is the big-ticket issue."
The National Republican Senatorial Committee flagged Kaine's comments for reporters, ironically promoting a position that the GOP likes even less than the Buffett Rule. The aim was to poke fun at the efforts of its counterpart, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which is rallying around a planned Senate vote on the Buffett Rule next week with an online ad and petition drive.