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August 28, 2014, 7:10 am

Romney talks down Buffett Rule

GOP hopeful outlines tax plan for area tea party


Tax day this year has become a political event — with Mitt Romney visiting Philadelphia and Democrats urging him to release his tax returns, and speaking in support of the “Buffett Rule,” which would levy a minimum 30 percent income tax on incomes over $2 million.

“We want to emphasize today the importance of the Buffett Rule, and contrast that with the Romney approach to taxes — which is a continuation of this idea that the only people in the country who are making a positive contribution to the economy, and to society, are the very richest people,” said City Controller Alan Butkovitz, who, along with District Attorney Seth Williams, spoke at a small press event sponsored by Pennsylvania Democrats.

The two men spoke from Independence Mall just hours before Romney was scheduled to meet with tea party leaders from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware at a tickets only “tax summit” at the Franklin Institute.

Taxes are a hot-button issue in the presidential campaign.

President Barack Obama has been urging Congress to pass the Buffett Rule. Republicans in Congress seem poised to shoot down the measure, setting the stage for an election year showdown that both sides hope they can capitalize on.

The Senate was scheduled to vote on the Buffett Rule Monday. Democratic leaders in both houses said they would press Republicans on the issue bringing the Buffett Rule up for repeated votes.

Democrats think the Buffett Rule vote will underscore their commitment to economic fairness and GOP favoritism for the rich, a prominent election theme. Hammering at it lets Obama shine a spotlight on Romney, a former private equity executive who has a lower rate than most middle-class families’ pay.

The two presidential candidates have very different approaches to taxes.

In addition to raising taxes on the wealthy, the president wants to increase taxes on corporations that do business overseas and increase taxes on oil and gas corporations. According to the administration, the new revenue would be used to ease individual and corporate tax rates and pay down federal deficits.

Romney has said he would extend all of the Bush tax cuts, including those for the richest people, and cut other tax rates and eliminate estate taxes.

It’s a platform that has the support of the local tea party.

“The economic freedom of Americans continues to be under assault from the Obama Administration," said Teri Adams, president of the Independence Hall Tea Party Association. “Gov. Romney realizes that the tax burden must be reduced across the board, and that the economy must be given a chance to make a full recovery.”

Romney, with an income last year of $21 million, is among those would pay more taxes under the Buffett Rule. In his most recent returns, he paid just 13 percent in taxes, a rate far lower than most Americans.

Williams said he should release at least eight years of returns so voters could have some idea of how much or how little he’s paid.

“We need to know, as a presidential candidate, how he is taxed,” said Williams.”

The Buffett rule is supported by a majority of voters.

A recent Associated Press-GfK poll showed that nearly 2 in 3 favor a 30 percent tax for those making $1 million annually, including most Democrats and independents — and even 4 in 10 Republicans.

The debate over the Buffett Rule comes as Congress is set to consider a number of other tax bills.

On Thursday the House will vote on legislation providing a 20 percent tax deduction for businesses that employ fewer than 500 workers, which covers 99.9 percent of all companies. The proposal, sponsored by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., seems certain to pass, but fail in the Senate.

Those votes are set just as many Americans stare at their own tax returns. The Internal Revenue Service says that through April 6, it had received 99 million of 145 million expected returns. So far, 80 million refunds have been issued, averaging $2,794, down $101 from last year.


The Associated Press contributed to this story. To comment, contact staff writer Eric Mayes at (215) 893-5742 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .