Senate Republicans derail 'Buffett rule' taxes on wealthy
BY AP Wire Service
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
4/17/12 at 6:38 AM
WASHINGTON (AP) - Senate Republicans on Monday derailed a Democratic "Buffett rule" bill that would have forced the nation's top earners to pay at least 30 percent of their income in taxes, using the day before Americans' taxes are due to defy President Barack Obama on one of his signature election-year issues.
By a near party-line 51-45 tally, senators favored keeping the bill alive but fell nine votes short of the 60 needed to continue debating the measure. The outcome came as no surprise.
At the White House, Obama denounced the vote, saying Republicans chose "once again to protect tax breaks for the wealthiest few Americans at the expense of the middle class."
"It's just plain wrong that millions of middle-class Americans pay a higher share of their income in taxes than some millionaires and billionaires," he said.
Republicans called the measure a divisive Democratic distraction from the nation's real problems that would not address the economy's real woes.
"This legislation will do nothing with regard to job creation, with regard to gas prices, with regard to economic recovery," said Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, the No. 2 Senate GOP leader.
Democrats' goal, he said, was "to try to draw attention away from the issues that the American people are most concerned about."
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine was the only Republican to join Democrats in voting to keep the measure alive, arguing that it was a way to start on a broad revamping of the entire tax code.
The lone defecting Democrat was Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, who said making the rich pay a fair share of taxes should occur as part of an overall tax overhaul, "not as a political ploy meant to score points."
The Senate vote Monday was on a measure by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., that would impose a minimum 30 percent income tax on people making over $2 million yearly and phase in higher taxes for those earning at least $1 million. The measure is nicknamed for billionaire Warren Buffett, who has called for higher taxes on the rich.
Monday's vote was the first time a "Buffett rule" proposal has come to a Senate vote this election year, though Democrats have tried unsuccessfully in recent months to impose modest surcharges on the income of the wealthy.
With elections approaching in November, it was also a microcosm of the broader battle the two parties are waging over the economy. And the fight isn't confined to the Senate floor.
On Thursday, the House plans to vote on a plan by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., to provide 20 percent tax deductions to all businesses with fewer than 500 workers - a threshold that includes 99.9 percent of all U.S. companies.
Original Print Headline: Senate Republicans foil 'Buffett rule'