UPDATE (6:17 p.m.) — The Senate voted largely along party lines, 51-45, Monday evening to reject the so-called Buffett Rule.
The measure, which needed 60 votes to clear the upper chamber, now faces an uncertain future. Fifty Senate Democrats saw one of their own, Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), side with Republicans in opposition of the proposal. Republican Senator Susan Collins (Maine) offset that vote by supporting the 30 percent minimum tax rate on households making upwards of $1 million.
Independent Senator Joe Lieberman (Conn.), who caucuses with Democrats, missed Monday evening’s vote and released a statement in opposition of the proposal.
President Obama took advantage of the failed attempt by pointing his finger at Senate Republicans for “ choosing once again to protect tax breaks for the wealthiest few Americans at the expense of the middle class.”
“The Buffett Rule is common sense,” Obama said in a statement following Monday’s vote. “At a time when we have significant deficits to close and serious investments to make to strengthen our economy, we simply cannot afford to keep spending money on tax cuts that the wealthiest Americans don’t need and didn’t ask for. But it’s also about basic fairness – it’s just plain wrong that millions of middle-class Americans pay a higher share of their income in taxes than some millionaires and billionaires. America prospers when we’re all in it together and everyone has the opportunity to succeed.”
Both parties believe they have the upper hand in the tax debate leading up to November’s elections, and, though Democrats failed Monday, they’ve signaled that they are willing to force repeated votes moving forward.
– End Update –
WASHINGTON — In its first day back in session, the Senate will hold a cloture vote Monday to move forward with a proposal aimed at implementing a minimum tax rate on the nation’s highest income earners and has a primary component of President Obama’s “fair share” campaign theme.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) criticized Obama for “lecturing” Congress and Americans over fairness and argued instead that the president’s plan is a redistribution of wealth gimmick.
“It’s all about the president’s idea of fairness now,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Monday. “I think Americans are tired of the blame game. They want their President to solve problems not point fingers.”
The Senate’s top Democrat Harry Reid (D-Nev.) countered McConnell’s criticisms, arguing that a majority of Americans, according to recent polls, believe the wealthiest Americans should contribute more. In fact, according to a new Gallup poll, six in 10 Americans support the idea that households earning upwards of $1 million should pay a minimum federal tax rate of 30 percent.
“As a Senate, Democrats work to make our tax system fairer for all Americans [while] Republicans in the House continue to pursue a budget that would hand more tax breaks tot he wealthiest few; the so-called Ryan budget.”
But McConnell instead said Americans are giving up hope that their legislators are unable to do “anything at all that would help.” The Kentucky Republican blasted Obama’s focus on the Buffet Rule.
“It shows the president is more interested in misleading people than he is in leading,” McConnell said. “The worse our problems get, the less serious [Obama] becomes… It’s anything but fair.”