Neither bill is expected to become law, nor is meaningful tax reform expected to pass this year. The upshot, instead, is essentially to frame the 2012 election.
The Republicans' goal is to paint themselves as tax-cutters as well as friends of small businesses. Democrats, frustrated with the GOP's persistent refusal to accept new revenues in any deficit-reduction deal, plan to force Republicans to defend their anti-tax rigidity to its most extreme lengths.
David Axelrod, a senior adviser to President Obama's reelection campaign, sought to draw the contrast with presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney, when asked about the bill's limited revenue-raising capacity on Fox News Sunday.
"It's part of an overall plan that will stabilize our debt and deficit," he said. "We're arguing for a system that is fair. He's arguing for a system that would exacerbate the great gaps we have in our system today."
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus insisted Sunday that the Buffett Rule is a distraction, and despite polls indicating broad public support for the principle, he said that Republicans are not on the wrong side of the politics.
"It's all about dividing and conquering," he said on CNN's State of the Union. "This is a shiny object that Barack Obama wants the country to look at."