The Buffett Rule: A Reagan Initiative
When Republicans in Washington claim that the "Buffett Rule" constitutes "class warfare," they conveniently forget that one of the fathers of fairness in the tax code is a Republican icon. As President Obama recently noted, "that wild-eyed...class warrior was Ronald Reagan."
The Buffett Rule Could be Called the Reagan Rule
- President Reagan Knew it Was Wrong for Millionaires to Pay a Lower Rate Than the Middle Class. President Reagan forcefully spoke out in favor of tax fairness, opposing tax loopholes that "sometimes made it possible for millionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying 10 percent of his salary...that's crazy." Warren Buffett borrows a page from President Reagan's playbook when he highlights the unfairness of an executive paying a lower tax rate than his secretary.
- President Reagan Believed Millionaires Shouldn't Use Loopholes to Avoid Paying Taxes. In a 1985 speech to high school students in Atlanta, Georgia, President Reagan discussed his plans for tax reform: "What we're trying to move against is institutionalized unfairness. We want to see that everyone pays their fair share, and no gets a free ride. Our reasons? It's good for society when we all know that no one is manipulating the system to their advantage because they are rich and powerful."
- President Reagan Followed Through, Reforming the Tax Code to Ensure the Very Wealthy and Corporations Were Paying Their Fair Share. President Reagan stood by this principle in the face of special interest pressure in his landmark 1986 tax reform, which reduced and eliminated loopholes, while raising tax rates on the wealthiest Americans. Reagan called it "a sweeping victory for fairness" where "vanishing loopholes and a minimum tax will mean that everybody and every corporation pay their fair share."