White House highlights tax fairness ahead of Obama speech
WASHINGTON, April 10 — Taxes for America's highest earners have fallen sharply since 1995, according to a White House report released today ahead of a speech by President Barack Obama on fairness in the tax code that is a key part of his campaign for re-election.
The White House estimated the 400 highest income households in the country, who all earned more than $110 million (RM330 million), paid an average of 18.1 per cent of their income in federal taxes in 2007, well down for 29.9 per cent those households paid in 1995.
Obama travels to Florida today where he will urge support for the Buffett Rule, named after billionaire investor Warren Buffett, that calls for people making more than $1 million a year to pay more in tax than middle-class families.
Obama's senior campaign adviser, David Axelrod, said most Americans would agree with the principle behind the tax change.
“We should not have a tax system where billionaires pay less than their secretaries. We have a tax system that's rigged against the average person, rigged in favour of the very wealthy. We need to fix that, and this Buffett Rule will address that,” Axelrod told MSNBC's “Morning Joe” program.
Obama's populist message also is a clear swipe at Mitt Romney, the wealthy Republican likely to face Obama in the Nov 6 election, as the president seeks to appeal to blue-collar voters that he will need to win a second term.
One of the richest men ever to seek the White House, Romney paid an effective tax rate of 13.9 percent in 2010 on more than $21 million in income. Obama's campaign is anxious to paint him as elitist and out of touch with ordinary Americans.
“Of millionaires in 2009, a full 22,000 households making more than $1 million annually paid less than 15 per cent of their income in income taxes,” the White House report said, citing data from the Internal Revenue Service.
Obama's push comes ahead of a Senate vote on the Buffett Rule on April 16. Republicans oppose the measure and say it will not create jobs or lower the high price of gasoline, which is worrying many Americans and could undermine the US recovery.
“This is yet another sign that they're out of ideas and simply focused on tax hike show-votes,” said Mitch McConnell, the top Senate Republican.
The seven-page White House report was called “The Buffett Rule: A basic principle of tax fairness.” It also noted that 1,470 households paid no federal income taxes on their million-plus-dollar incomes, and the rich were paying proportionally much less of their income than they had in the past. — Reuters