Buffett Rule proposal just a modern bill of attainder for Romney?

posted at 9:16 am on April 12, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Next week, the Senate will vote on the Buffett Rule, President Obama’s class-warfare bid to punish the wealthy under the guide of paying their “fair share” in taxes.  Never mind that the top one percent already pay a much higher median effective tax rate at 29.6%, as the President’s own economists noted this year, more than double that of midrange earners’ 13.3%.  Never mind that the predicted revenue of the Buffett Rule would produce $4 billion a year in revenue, which represents about 0.44% of next year’s deficit but could be used in the private sector to generate innovation and expansion.  The Senate and the President want to punish a very small group of Americans, perhaps no more than 400 households, for their success.

At one time, we had an aversion to punishing people through legislative action, an aversion so strong that the Constitution bars both federal and state legislatures from considering bills of attainder.  As I explain in my column for The Fiscal Times today, that’s what this looks like, aimed ostensibly at 400 households but politically at just one:

Obama and his allies insist that the actual revenue and deficit reduction matter less than the fairness, but neither matters as much as having a class-warfare club to swing at Mitt Romney in the fall.  Bernie Becker at The Hill stated the obvious when he reported that the White House wanted to “hammer” Romney with the Buffett Rule proposal, pointing out that Romney only paid an effective tax rate of 14 percent on tax returns he released this winter during the nomination fight.

Democrats in Congress want to push this bill as a means to punish Romney for his wealth, politically in this case rather than legally, since the bill has zero chance of passing into law.  It’s a naked attempt to use Congress to attack and damage the likely challenger to the incumbent President.

In 1788 James Madison, one of the framers of our government, warned about Congressional attempts to issue political and legal punishments. He said, “Bills of attainder, ex post facto laws, and laws impairing the obligations of contracts, are contrary to the first principles of the social compact, and to every principle of sound legislation. … The sober … have seen with regret and indignation that sudden changes and legislative interferences, in cases affecting personal rights, become jobs in the hands of enterprising and influential speculators, and snares to the more-industrious and less-informed part of the community.”

Perhaps we should start paying attention to the Constitution.

The bill won’t pass in the Senate, and it doesn’t have a prayer of even coming to the floor in the House.  It’s simply a gimmick to provide Obama a way to demonize Romney as a rich fat cat for the November election.  How well is it working?  Dana Milbank, who’s definitely in the target audience, sounds singularly unimpressed:

Actually, the gimmick was apparent even without the president’s acknowledgment. He gave his remarks in a room in the White House complex adorned with campaign-style photos of his factory tours. On stage with him were eight props: four millionaires, each paired with a middle-class assistant. The octet smiled and nodded so much as Obama made his case that it appeared the president was sharing the stage with eight bobbleheads.

And if that’s not enough evidence of gimmickry, after his speech Obama’s reelection campaign unveiled an online tax calculator “to see how your tax rate stacks up against Mitt Romney’s — and then see what the Buffett Rule would do.” …

The politics of the Buffett Rule — it has no chance of passing when the Senate takes it up next week — are so overt that Obama’s remarks Wednesday were virtually indistinguishable from a section of his campaign speech in Florida on Tuesday.

Having the Senate push through an Obama campaign strategy document for a floor vote as a way to throw mud at his political opponent has to be one of the most cynical uses of power in modern Beltway times — especially since the Senate hasn’t bothered to pass a budget resolution in three years.  Instead of fretting over the budgets of 400 families, shouldn’t the Senate be focusing on the nation’s budget, a responsibility assigned to them by law?

Update: Sorry for the typo; that should have been 29.6%, not 296.6%.


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29.66%, maybe? :)

AubieJon on April 12, 2012 at 9:18 AM

Actually, the gimmick was apparent even without the president’s acknowledgment. He gave his remarks in a room in the White House complex adorned with campaign-style photos of his factory tours. On stage with him were eight props: four millionaires, each paired with a middle-class assistant. The octet smiled and nodded so much as Obama made his case that it appeared the president was sharing the stage with eight bobbleheads.

Can’t imagine why it wasn’t persuasive. When they handed out the white coats for the photo op on Obamacare, it led to a groundswell of support in the Congress and country didn’t it?

/s

Wethal on April 12, 2012 at 9:19 AM

296? wow…

Kraken on April 12, 2012 at 9:19 AM

War On Reagan

Electrongod on April 12, 2012 at 9:20 AM

Yeesh. That was an unfortunate typo, huh? 29.6%. Fixed it above.

Ed Morrissey on April 12, 2012 at 9:22 AM

Yeesh. That was an unfortunate typo, huh? 29.6%. Fixed it above.

Ed Morrissey on April 12, 2012 at 9:22 AM

But what an “income” generator that would be! Sort of like printing money out of nothing.

Oh…

Kraken on April 12, 2012 at 9:24 AM

Obama is unraveling. Wait until Obamacare is struck down. This is going to be fun.

The Count on April 12, 2012 at 9:24 AM

Ok so when this doesn’t pass how do these morons think they’re gonna waste people’s time for the next 200 or so days until they get thrown out on their ass?

gsherin on April 12, 2012 at 9:25 AM

Serious constitutional question: how narrowly targeted must a bill be in order to be an unconstitutional bill of attainder? And the obvious follow-up: would the proposed Buffett Rule fail for this reason?

jwolf on April 12, 2012 at 9:25 AM

Eat the rich!!!

I call dibs on Eva Mendes.

The Rogue Tomato on April 12, 2012 at 9:29 AM

The juvenile jackassery that admits from the Obama “administration” is sheer buffoonery.

Anyone who swallows this idiocy is a complete idiot and that includes the MSM.

NoDonkey on April 12, 2012 at 9:29 AM

On stage with him were eight props: four millionaires, each paired with a middle-class assistant.

PBHO at first demanded that the women be barefoot and wearing aprons, but the last sane person on his staff talked him out of it.

Bishop on April 12, 2012 at 9:30 AM

He [James Madison] said, “Bills of attainder, ex post facto laws, and laws impairing the obligations of contracts, are contrary to the first principles of the social compact, and to every principle of sound legislation. …

Get with the program, Jimmy boy! It’s 2012. The lightworker is president. The opinion of long-dead slave owners like you is not only immaterial, it’s offensive.

Odysseus on April 12, 2012 at 9:31 AM

Obama is unraveling. Wait until Obamacare is struck down. This is going to be fun.

The Count on April 12, 2012 at 9:24 AM

…that POS is going to crack!

KOOLAID2 on April 12, 2012 at 9:31 AM

Who were those bobblehead millionaires and middle class assistants anyway? I’ve been in a few executive suites and they didn’t look like they had been any where near one. Any time the govt adds a new tax, it eventually gets expanded after they spend whatever money it raises. 400 becomes 400,000. Much like the universe, it will go on forever.

Kissmygrits on April 12, 2012 at 9:31 AM

Fox news finds a mole on its staff.

James Moriarty on April 12, 2012 at 9:32 AM

Because with Zero it’s always about campaigning, not governing. Best of many reasons not to give that clown a second term. Who knows what horrors he’ll think of when he finds that he doesn’t have to campaign for anything anymore?

Gingotts on April 12, 2012 at 9:32 AM

In 1788 James Madison, one of the framers of our government, warned about Congressional attempts to issue political and legal punishments. He said, “Bills of attainder, ex post facto laws, and laws impairing the obligations of contracts, are contrary to the first principles of the social compact, and to every principle of sound legislation. … The sober … have seen with regret and indignation that sudden changes and legislative interferences, in cases affecting personal rights, become jobs in the hands of enterprising and influential speculators, and snares to the more-industrious and less-informed part of the community.”

Perhaps we should start paying attention to the Constitution

How about presidents who willfully ignore obligations of contracts? GM and Chrysler contracts, anyone? Obamacare, anyone?

onlineanalyst on April 12, 2012 at 9:34 AM

The Democrat party sits idly by while Obama and his inner circle destroys it from top to bottom. Interesting and not unamusing.

Finbar on April 12, 2012 at 9:35 AM

Ed,

Stop using logic and reason. Those are useless against this regime’s ongoing assault on intelligence.

Why the hell did I go to graduate school? I’m just going to be demonized. Should have just sat on the couch and waited for the check.

G

Washington Fancy on April 12, 2012 at 9:38 AM

The Senate and the President want to punish a very small group of Americans, perhaps no more than 400 households, for their success.

Not as blatant of a Bill of Attainder as the attempt to take away standard business tax deduction (aka “subsidies”) from the top five (and ONLY the top five) American oil companies.

iurockhead on April 12, 2012 at 9:38 AM

…that POS is going to crack!

KOOLAID2 on April 12, 2012 at 9:31 AM

People with white jackets will soon be surrounding Obama.

All part of the new Affordable Health Care Law.

Electrongod on April 12, 2012 at 9:38 AM

He should have just asked for that extra money to be given to charity…it would have been received better and would have been better spent than on a sludge fund for democrats.

tomas on April 12, 2012 at 9:40 AM

This reminds me of our fun thread (when Ed was away) on the Obama team’s search for a campaign motto. (Palin having demolished “Winning The Future” the day it was rolled out).

The Dems are trying various attacks focused on particular voting blocs they need, but none seems to be working.

They are, of course, preaching to their choir of unions, feminists and certain minorities, but their “let’s try this tactic and see if it works with the swing voters” practice is getting kind of sloppy and frantic.

And it is sooo entertaining to watch. :)

Wethal on April 12, 2012 at 9:40 AM

Hey, know what is older and more dated than the Constitution?

You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor’s house or land, his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Deuteronomy 5:4-21

tmitsss on April 12, 2012 at 9:41 AM

He is still winning by the way

tomas on April 12, 2012 at 9:43 AM

Hey, know what is older and more dated than the Constitution?

You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor’s house or land, his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Deuteronomy 5:4-21

tmitsss on April 12, 2012 at 9:41 AM

The framers of the constitution had a healthy respect for the decalogue. Team Obama? Not so much.

gryphon202 on April 12, 2012 at 9:45 AM

Hey, know what is older and more dated than the Constitution?

[snip 10 commandments excerpt]

tmitsss on April 12, 2012 at 9:41 AM

Well yeah, but they’re doing it for the children! I’m sure God will understand.

/nauseatingly sarcastic

jwolf on April 12, 2012 at 9:47 AM

Instead of fretting over the budgets of 400 families, shouldn’t the Senate be focusing on the nation’s budget, a responsibility assigned to them by law?

Well, if more women didn’t work a day in their lives….

Seriously, this administration is all about getting another four years to destroy America. Four more years of a fat-bottomed hypocrite getting free vacations and sending her brat off to Mexico with no fewer than 24 government employees. Four more years of governing by executive order instead of the rule of law.

Happy Nomad on April 12, 2012 at 9:49 AM

Ok so when this doesn’t pass how do these morons think they’re gonna waste people’s time for the next 200 or so days until they get thrown out on their ass?

gsherin on April 12, 2012 at 9:25 AM

The agenda is full.

Stirring up race riots via the Trayvon Martin case/ trial of George Zimmerman.

Trotting out the slutty Sandra Fluke for round two of the war on Christians.

Demonizing the productive for the benefit of the worthless moochers that represent Obama’s base.

Basically, any bright shiny distraction that keeps attention on something other than the fact that Obama has been a complete failure as President.

Happy Nomad on April 12, 2012 at 9:56 AM

Obama smash capital!

Obama destroy!

tom daschle concerned on April 12, 2012 at 9:56 AM

Obama is now singing the tune that the Buffet Rule is all about “fairness.” The trial balloon is losing its air. It’s all about partisan politics and talking points … as it always is with Obama.

It’s too bad (but typical) that the rah-rah princess Mika with her MSNBC-WH talking points disagrees.
http://newsbusters.org/blogs/mark-finkelstein/2012/04/12/politicos-vandehei-obama-campaign-insanely-political-buffett-rule-

onlineanalyst on April 12, 2012 at 10:10 AM

How about presidents who willfully ignore obligations of contracts? GM and Chrysler contracts, anyone? Obamacare, anyone?

onlineanalyst on April 12, 2012 at 9:34 AM

Amen! How about Gibson Guitar?

Bulletchaser on April 12, 2012 at 10:17 AM

Anyone actually try that phony Obama campaign tax calculator that was referenced in Millbank’s piece? What a propaganda tool. It told me my family’s effective rate was over 15% even though we paid just under 4% in 2011 as a married couple with 2 kids, $65K income.

Everything about this president and his party is a lie.

Common Sense Floridian on April 12, 2012 at 10:21 AM

He is still winning by the way

tomas on April 12, 2012 at 9:43 AM

Winning in what way? Like a Charlie Sheen #Winning! kind of way or something else?

H.E. Pennypacker on April 12, 2012 at 10:21 AM

He is winning in the polls.

tomas on April 12, 2012 at 10:42 AM

Our Idiot Prez wants to call the Buffett Rule the Reagan Rule. You want a Reagan Rule? Here’s a Reagan Rule: “Warren, pay your damned taxes!”

EMD on April 12, 2012 at 10:45 AM

He is still wHining by the way

tomas on April 12, 2012 at 9:43 AM

FIFY

Resist We Much on April 12, 2012 at 11:01 AM

The Senate and the President want to punish a very small group of Americans, perhaps no more than 400 households, for their success.

Eh, that’s 400 now. You forget they’re called Progressives. Progressively more will ensnared in the “success tax”.

DaveDief on April 12, 2012 at 11:15 AM

tomas on April 12, 2012 at 10:42 AM

Too bad for you the election isn’t today. Lots of things can happen between now and November.

H.E. Pennypacker on April 12, 2012 at 11:26 AM

Try using the calculator. Spoiler Alert: it’s completely wrong. Go figure.

drewwerd on April 12, 2012 at 11:33 AM

drewwerd on April 12, 2012 at 11:33 AM

Ze falsifiability of claims, she is a b***h, no?

I mean, what pack of idiots would put out an half-a#&ed effective rate calculator the very week that millions of Americans* will see as the last screen of their tax prep programs their correctly calculated effective rate (with all allowances, deductions, etc.)?

——
* I know most people file earlier, but those of us who always owe tend to wait until later.

DrSteve on April 12, 2012 at 11:38 AM

tomas on April 12, 2012 at 10:42 AM

Too bad for you the election isn’t today. Lots of things can happen between now and November.

H.E. Pennypacker on April 12, 2012 at 11:26 AM

Actually it’s good for him that the election isn’t today even though he’s a moron. If the election were today then his life and our country would continue to spiral down the crapper as Obumbles dictated his way thru another 4 years. This way thomas still has an opportunity to get his head out of his rectal cavity, vote for the pro American, pro democracy, pro capitalism candidate, watch the economy turn around and then thomas MAY(i’m hedging bets that even thomas could) be successful with a new administration.

StompUDead on April 12, 2012 at 11:52 AM

* I know most people file earlier, but those of us who always owe tend to wait until later.

DrSteve on April 12, 2012 at 11:38 AM

Since you owe every year it’s clear you’re not sitting on your rear end enough and collecting a welfare check. In Obama’s America there’s something wrong with you. What gives?/

StompUDead on April 12, 2012 at 11:55 AM

So you should try the Obama calculator and see how misleading it is!

Put in $50k/yr

Instead of giving you your rate, as it does with higher level incomes, it pops up with

Some families pay a low rate because they have lower incomes. See how a typical middle-class family stacks up against Mitt Romney

It only shows for a couple seconds, not long enough to read it. I had to grab a screen shot to finally catch the text.

After a couple seconds it shows the ‘typical middle-class family’ with 20.6% vs Romney’s 13%.

Pretty damn deceptive… it goes by so quickly, you are left with the impression that YOU are paying 20%.

AustinLibertarian on April 12, 2012 at 12:31 PM

Since he’s still looking for a theme, I thought I’d help out our Prez with a slogan: Obama – all politics no progress!

HoosierStateofMind on April 12, 2012 at 12:41 PM

Welp, here we go. The “Romney Rule“.

forest on April 12, 2012 at 1:19 PM

President Obama admits it: His proposed “Buffett Rule” tax on millionaires is a gimmick. “There are others who are saying: ‘Well, this is just a gimmick. Just taxing millionaires and billionaires, just imposing the Buffett Rule, won’t do enough to close the deficit,’ ” Obama declared Wednesday. “Well, I agree.”

easyt65 on April 12, 2012 at 2:49 PM

It should be clear by now to everyone that Barack Obama is a con artist. He clearly knows nothing about business and profits, but he thinks he was elected to make investments without regard to their future profitability, because, you know, who cares about profits? What we need is a Green Rule where environmentalists have to pay back all the money we’ve wasted on their fruitless scheme over the years. It’s an adjunct to the Separation Clause. Green is their religion; let them tithe their own hangers on and leave the rest of us alone. h

flataffect on April 12, 2012 at 3:01 PM