The legislation itself works much like the existing Alternative Minimum Tax -- except it's for people who make over $1 million a year. With some exceptions, they would be required to pay 30 percent of their income to the federal government, if loopholes, expenditures and benefits in the existing tax code bring their burden below that level. The current top marginal rate is 35 percent. It was 39.6 percent under President Clinton and 28 percent under President Reagan.
The back story to the Buffett Rule -- and the press corps' jaundiced treatment of it -- is here. Voting for the rule would explicitly violate the anti-tax pledge nearly every Republican lawmaker has taken. As such, the GOP is attacking it in myriad ways, and even endangered moderates, such as Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), are expected to oppose it.