He added that passing the Buffett Rule “makes it affordable for us to be able to say for those people who make under $250,000 a year, like 98 percent of American families do, then your taxes don’t go up. And we can still make those investments in things like student loans and college and science and all — infrastructure and all the things that make this country great.”
Obama’s boast appears to overstate what the Buffett Rule actually does. It raises about $47 billion over the next decade — hardly a princely sum and nothing approaching the $3 trillion-plus cost of extending tax cuts for the middle class. In an era of trillion-dollar deficits, it’s a drop in the bucket.
Republicans ripped Obama and the Buffett Rule before the president spoke, arguing he was trying to distract from his record with class warfare.
“This has nothing to do with sound economic policy to get our economy moving again and everything to do with politics,” Senate Finance ranking member Orrin Hatch said. The Utah Republican dismissed the revenue raised by the new 30 percent minimum millionaire tax as “a spit in the ocean.”
Still, the president urged his audience to contact Congress. “Remind them who they work for,” he said.
Obama ended on a rhetorical flourish, his voice rising to cheers. “Here in America we look out for one another. ... Here in America we can seize any moment. We can make this century another great American century.”
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.