My pal Josh Green has the choice metaphor for the Buffett Rule which is destined to go down to a glorious defeat today in the senate. The BR, as we’ll call it, is like Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars. “Strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.”There’s been a rising chorus among the knowing set in DC to the effect that the whole Buffett Rule exercise is silly and political because it won’t close the country’s structural budget deficits on its own. But this is no more than standard DC frivolity and shallow-mindedness.
Even if it’s doomed, the rule (which would work something like the Alternative Minimum Tax) is good policy. But more than that, the Buffett Rule represented and represents what amounts to a reductio ad absurdum of Washington’s brain dead tax policy debate. If you can’t agree that centi-millionaires should be paying a higher percentage in taxes than school teachers and service industry workers, then tax equity is a joke. And if you can’t raise taxes on the wealthiest people in the country, how exactly do you expect to ever tackle the country’s fiscal shortfall?