WH: It's a 'Gimmick' to Ask Obama, Buffett to Voluntarily Pay More Taxes

By Fred Lucas | April 10, 2012 | 4:35pm EDT

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – As President Barack Obama was en route to Florida on Tuesday to promote a tax hike on the wealthy, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney dismissed the idea that the president should voluntarily pay more in taxes, if he feels he is not currently paying enough.

Carney described the idea as a "gimmick." However, the U.S. Treasury does accept voluntary donations.

Back on Jan. 19, President Obama had said, “Let me be absolutely clear: I should pay more taxes, and folks in my income bracket should pay more taxes, and certainly folks who are making billions of dollars should pay more taxes, not because I want to take their money and just give it to somebody else.”

On Tuesday, Obama was set to deliver remarks in support of the so-called “Buffett Rule” at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. The proposal is named for billionaire investor Warren Buffet, and it basically says that no one making more than $1 million a year should pay a smaller share of their income than a middle-income household would pay, which would be a maximum of 35 percent for income.

Related to that, the conservative group, American Crossroads, established an online petition that says, “President Obama and Warren Buffet are deeply troubled by how low their taxes are. Nothing is stopping them from paying more in taxes voluntarily. Sign the petition to encourage Obama and Buffett to put their money where their mouths are when it comes to the ‘Buffett Rule.’”

On Air Force One on Tuesday, a reporter asked the press secretary, “Jay, a Republican super PAC has an online petition calling for the president to pay more in taxes on a voluntary basis, along with Warren Buffett. Has the President considered that at all, or do you know if that’s something he might do?”

Carney seemed not to take the question seriously.

He said, “Gimmicks by super PACs funded by multi-millionaires who are advancing an agenda that would protect them from having to pay their fair share in taxes, protect them from having to pay a tax on their income at a rate similar to middle-class Americans, are not things that we take very seriously. And neither should the American people. We doubt that they will.”

The reporter then asked, “Why not have the president sort of set that example and lead by example?”

Carney responded, “You guys are seriously buying into this gimmick? And what the president has made clear: that he does not believe that people like him who’ve been fortunate enough to succeed financially should pay taxes at a lower rate than middle-class Americans. He believes that we should ask people like him to pay a little bit more, people like Warren Buffett and others, millionaires and billionaires who have succeeded, to pay a little bit more.”

President Barack Obama, left, and investor Warren Buffett. (AP Photo

“He is going around the country, as others have noted, making the case for this and he’s often making the case for this principle, in terms of campaign events, in front of people who fall into the category who would pay more under the president’s proposal and the Buffett rule,” Carney said. “They also believe that that’s the right thing to do. It’s a matter of simple fairness.”

The Bureau of Public Debt webpage has a form that allows voluntary contributions to help pay down the debt. The website pay.gov says, "Welcome to the United State Treasury's site for making donations to help reduce the the public debt. If you would like to make a donation, please fill in the required fields and click the Submit Data button when completed." The form has a field for the name of the donor, credit card number and other information.

Under the current tax code, the highest tax rate for investment income (dividends) is 15 percent. The highest tax rate for wages (personal income) is 35 percent. Thus, someone who makes a low wage income, but is wealthy from investment income dividends like Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, could pay a lower percentage in federal taxes than someone who earns less in wage income.

If the Buffett rule legislation, proposed by Sen. Sheldon White House (D-R.I.), is enacted, it would generate $46.7 billion in revenue over the next 10 years. That’s in contrast to the $7 trillion in projected federal budget deficits over the next decade.

For 2013, the Obama administration proposed a budget of $3.6 trillion. A version of that proposal was defeated in the House of Representatives on Mar 28 by a vote 414-0.

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