Reintroducing the Buffet Rule

Later this afternoon, in Florida, President Obama will make his push for the Buffet rule, a policy which would ensure a minimum 30 percent tax rate for individuals making more than $1 million per year. There’s no chance that it will pass either chamber of Congress, but that’s not the point; the proposal is meant to place Democrats on the side of tax fairness and present the GOP as tied to the interests of the wealthy Americans. The Republican response is that this is an attempt to draw attention away from the economy and its sluggish performance over the last three years. In a great post, Greg Sargent notes the extent to which the Obama campaign is hoping to tie its argument about the direction of the economy to an argument on economic fairness:

The GOP hopes to neutralize the tax fairness issue by separating it from the economy’s performance. But Obama’s case is that there is no separating the fairness issue from the economy’s performance or from people’s economic suffering. He is selling an overall vision that includes pushing for more revenues from the wealthy to facilitate government investment in the economy and in shoring up the middle class, and combatting inequality not just out of basic fairness, but also to facilitate economic growth.

The good news for Obama is that Mitt Romney is just as eager as he is to make this an election over values. To maintain support among suspicious conservative voters, Romney will have to emphasize the degree to which there is no daylight between his interests and those of the Republican base. Part of this will include a sop to the right with his vice-presidential pick, and part of it will include stronger rhetoric on social and economic values. Ed Kilgore notes the likely dynamic as it relates to religious questions:

It’s reasonably clear from this pattern of rhetoric that Romney’s way of dealing with conservative evangelical mistrust of his LDS faith is to talk more, not less, about religion and cultural issues, which is exactly what Christian Right leaders expect and demand of him.

Given the degree to which Romney has already promised to offer a “real choice and a new beginning,” we will almost certainly see something similar from Romney on economic issues.