A middle-class couple who each have an annual income of $42,500 pay a 20 percent tax rate. On the other hand, because of tax loopholes and tax breaks that coddle millionaires and billionaires, America's 400 wealthiest taxpayers pay on average a mere 18 percent.
In other words, a billionaire like Warren Buffett pays a significantly lower tax rate than his secretary does.
That's unfair, and it goes against our values as Americans. That's why President Obama, Democrats, and even billionaires like Buffett want to put an end to it once and for all. The President has proposed the Buffett Rule, which would require everyone to pay their fair share by closing the loopholes and special tax breaks that let the wealthiest pay a lower tax rate than many middle-class families.
Here's why this matters. Making sure millionaires and billionaires play by the same rules and pay their fair share is key to reducing our deficit and investing in the things we need to grow an economy that's built to last. President Obama laid out the stark choice we face:
"Do we want to keep giving tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans like me or Warren Buffett or Bill Gates—people who don't need them and never asked for them? Or do we want to keep investing in the things that will grow our economy and keep us secure? Because we can't afford to do both."
Over the past decade, instead of investing in the elements of a strong economy, our country has spent hundreds of billions of dollars paying for what was supposed to be a temporary tax break for the wealthiest 2 percent. Now we're on track to spend nearly a trillion dollars more.
The consequences of this inequality are very real. When millionaires get tax breaks they don't need and we can't afford, our deficit either shoots up or we're forced to make up the difference on the backs of those who are already struggling: people like students, seniors, teachers, and veterans. If the Buffett Rule isn't passed, students could have less help paying for college while tuition costs rise. American manufacturers would have a harder time competing in the global market. And we'd have less money to invest in innovation and the jobs of the future. We just can't afford to return to the Republicans' failed you're-on-your-own economic policies.
Just think about this: The Buffett Rule would create up to $32 million in tax revenue from a single millionaire—$32 million that can be put toward reducing our deficit or investing in education, jobs, and infrastructure.
The Buffett Rule matters.
The Senate will vote on this next week, and the Republicans are going to put up a strong fight on this one in order to protect the wealthiest Americans and special interests. And their presidential front-runner has a horse in this race: Mitt Romney pays an astronomically low tax rate—13.9 percent—and if the tax plan he's proposed is any indication, he wants to keep it that way.
It's time to join Warren Buffett in making our voices heard and demanding fairness.
We're sending a strong message to our lawmakers: Pass the Buffett Rule. Add your name, then spread the word.