Congressional Republicans are countering President Barack Obama's attempt to raise taxes on millionaires, and they are appropriating his proposal's name to do it.
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), backed by anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist, introduced the Buffett Rule Act last week. The bill would instruct the IRS to add a check box on 1040 forms for taxpayers to indicate that they want to voluntarily pay extra.
The name of the act mimics that of Obama's proposal, named for the investor Warren Buffett, which would create a new minimum tax rate for individuals making more than $1 million per year.
At a news conference today with Scalise, Norquist called Obama's proposal "class warfare" and boasted that the Republican legislation is the only bill with "Buffett Rule" in the title.
"This is going to pass the House, and what Democrat up for re-election ... is going to want to be the hypocrite, be the guy who said, 'Everybody else should pay taxes but it should not be on my tax return,'" said Norquist, the president of the taxpayer advocacy group Americans for Tax Reform. "I think it'll pass the House, I think it'll pass the Senate."
Scalise tempered that statement, saying he thinks the proposal will go further than the president's. "We have a lot of interest from Members," he said. "It's a very different approach."
In a statement, Thune said the bill would make it easy for people to pay more to the Treasury if they believe they are undertaxed.
"If individuals like Warren Buffett or President Obama are inclined to donate their own personal money toward paying down the federal government's debt, they ought to have that right to do so voluntarily," he said.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.