Republicans criticize tax on millionaires idea

WASHINGTON Sun Sep 18, 2011 1:44pm EDT

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan speaks during a meeting at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget Annual Conference in Washington June 14, 2011. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan speaks during a meeting at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget Annual Conference in Washington June 14, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

Related Topics

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican leaders on Sunday criticized President Barack Obama's proposal for a new tax on millionaires, calling it "class warfare" and predicting it will face heavy opposition in Congress.

Obama is expected to propose a "Buffett Tax" on Monday on people making more than $1 million a year as part of his recommendations to a congressional super committee seeking long-term deficit savings.

Paul Ryan, chairman of the House of Representatives Budget Committee, and Mitch McConnell, Senate Republican leader, said the proposal would limit growth and hurt corporate investment in an already stagnating economy.

"It adds further instability to our system, more uncertainty and it punishes job creation and those people who create jobs," Ryan said on Fox News Sunday. "Class warfare may make for good politics but it makes for rotten economics."

McConnell said Congress had already debated the issue last year, when Obama and Republicans forged a compromise that extended the reduced tax rates, approved during the administration of George W. Bush, for high-earners for two years.

"It's a bad thing to do in the middle of an economic downturn," McConnell said on NBC's Meet the Press. "There is bipartisan opposition to what the president is recommending already."

The "Buffett Tax" refers to billionaire U.S. investor Warren Buffett, who wrote last month that rich people like him often pay less in tax than those who work for them because of loopholes in the tax code, and can afford to pay more.

Obama will lay out his recommendations in White House Rose Garden remarks at 10.30 a.m. EDT on Monday and is expected to urge steps to raise tax revenue as well as cuts in spending.


The super committee of six Democratic and six Republican lawmakers must find at least $1.2 trillion in deficit savings before the end of the year to avoid painful automatic cuts, and is mandated to seek savings of up to $1.5 trillion.

Those savings are on top of $917 billion in deficit reduction agreed to in an August deal to raise the U.S. debt limit and Obama wants it to go further.

The populist proposal for a millionaire tax would appeal to Obama's Democratic base heading into the 2012 election, setting the stage for a battle with Republicans over tax and spending priorities.

"I just think that's a political move by the president," Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said of the millionaire tax on CNN's State of the Union.

"When you pick one area of the economy and you say, we're going to tax those people because most people are not those people, that's class warfare," he said.

Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois said on CNN that the proposal to raise taxes would be a good idea as long as it targeted "the wealthy and comfortable and those who wouldn't even notice it."

Congress also is considering Obama's jobs-creation proposal sent to them earlier this month. Durbin, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, said a Senate vote on Obama's jobs plan would likely come in October.

(Writing by John Whitesides; Editing by Philip Barbara)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (37)
seattlesh wrote:
Paul Ryan. himself a millionaire, represents a wealthy congressional district. He has proposed eliminating Medicare and severely curtailing Social Security and is opposed to any form of national health care that covers all US citizens and he has the chutzpah to call Obama’s tax proposal on the wealthy class warfare. Such duplicity Mr. Ryan will not go unanswered.

Sep 18, 2011 10:48am EDT  --  Report as abuse
The_Traveler wrote:
So WTF? These people think we’re just going to pull the solution out of thin air? No, taxing the rich won’t solve the problem in the long term. Yes, government need to reform it’s spending for a solution in the long run.


Criminy, jerks in the GOP shoot down every solution Obama presents before it’s had a chance to be debated. Meanwhile, we continue to stagnate and make no meaningful progress forward.

Sep 18, 2011 11:22am EDT  --  Report as abuse
JimmyStewart wrote:
So now it’s “class warfare”, but not when Ryan wanted to end Medicare? So now it’s “class warfare”, but not trying to pay for unfunded tax cuts for billionaires with the social programs we’ve all helped to pay for. After decades watching the income inequality gap grow, where the hard workers and wage earners pay has literally stayed flat while CEO and corporate profits have gone up tens of times. This isn’t “class warfare” Mr. Ryan. This is the very first baby step to stop the class warfare that’s been going on for decades.

I find it very odd that Mr. Ryan and fellow Republicans have taken this tactic. The Bible is very clear that this is not right or just. The Bible warns time and time again against greed. There are so very many passages that say only to collect that which you need for survival and to give the rest away to help those without. The Bible even encourages a person to pay their taxes. Why are Mr. Ryan and the Republicans fighting the words of Jesus and of he Bible?

Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. -Ezekiel 16:49

He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God. -Proverbs 14:31

He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and he who gives gifts to the rich–both come to poverty. -Proverbs 22:16

Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. -Psalm 119:36

No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. -Matthew 6:24

He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses. -Proverbs 28:27

Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’ -Matthew 19:23-24

There are literally too many to post. The Jesus and the Bible are quite quite clear on this issue. How sad that a major party in the US Congress has so clearly lost sight of what the Bible teaches us. For shame Mr. Paul. It is time we all live as the Bible teaches.

Sep 18, 2011 11:26am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.