The problem the Buffett Rule won't fix: We need a lot more tax revenue

These days it takes so much energy and so many chits to enact any major piece of legislation that it’s hard to believe Congress will pass two tax reform laws in the same year. Enacting the Buffett Rule will absolve members of any concern about the current tax system, and prevent more wide-ranging reform. Meanwhile, for those who are (or might be) affected by the Buffett Rule, it will be an added complication. People will have to compute their taxes twice: once under the regular rules and again under the Buffett Rule — and then they will have to pay the higher of the two.

The Buffett Rule would just paper over mistakes in our tax system that ought to be fixed. Let’s be clear: The reason that many millionaires pay so little income tax is that Republicans in the White House and the Congress wanted it that way. The last major tax reform, in 1986, equalized the tax rate on all forms of income: working wages, capital gains and dividends. This had the support of President Ronald Reagan and most Republican members of Congress…

The biggest challenge for whoever is president the next four years will be convincing Americans that we must pay more taxes. Every realistic and honest person concedes that a tax increase will be necessary to get us out of the hole we’ve dug. (Yes, yes, spending must be reined in too, and yes, yes, we don’t need to start until the recession is indubitably over.) But it can’t just be a tax on Warren Buffett and his peers. It will have to be a tax on you. The Buffett Rule makes that a harder sell.