Gallup: Most Americans — and even 43 percent of Republicans — favor the Buffett Rule

Don’t look now, folks, but a certain example of what the demagogues call “class warfare” is SUPPORTED by a solid majority of the American people:

Six in 10 Americans favor Congress’ passing the so-called “Buffett Rule,” which would mandate a minimum 30% tax rate for Americans with a household income of $1 million or more per year. Majorities of both Democrats and independents favor the policy, while a majority of Republicans oppose it…

President Barack Obama has pushed this tax policy in recent appearances, and the U.S. Senate may vote on it next week. Few observers believe it has a chance of passing the Republican-controlled House to become law before the end of the year.

The proposed legislation was informally dubbed the “Buffett Rule” after billionaire investor Warren Buffett asserted that he should not be allowed to pay a lower tax rate than his secretary. Gallup’s question about the proposal, included in its April 9-12 Economy and Personal Finance survey, asked if “households earning $1 million a year or more” should pay a minimum of 30% of their income in taxes. The actual law the Senate will vote on would include more complex “phase in” clauses for those making between $1 and $2 million per year.



  1. Tim May: If it’s such an insignificant matter, why are your wingnut Republican friends in Congress opposed to it? Oh, wait! We all know the answer to that, don’t we? They’re against it because Obama is for it? Those pathological obstructionists oppose almost anything Obama favors. It kind of reminds me of the individual mandate provision in ObamaCare. It was a conservative idea to begin with, but the right-wingers turned against it once Obama favored it. You people are downright laughable.

  2. Tim is right, it is an insignificant issue fiscally and merely a political diversion from our true fiscal disaster. Besides, what’s up with the President paying a lower effective tax rate than his secretary anyway? Is he trying to emulate his billionaire benefactor Buffett?

  3. doc: You just don’t get it, do you? The fact that the president gets to pay a lower effective tax rate than his secretary is exactly the problem he’s trying to fix. It’s a perfect illustration of the injustice of the system. But you seem not to understand that. You seem to think that the situation regarding Obama and his secretary is some kind of scandalous revelation that shows his hypocrisy. It is exactly the opposite. How dumb can you get?

  4. If he is so outraged by the injustice of it all, why doesn’t he just take no deductions and pay his “fair share” to the IRS?

    He can’t have it both ways. If he wants demonize corporations and “the rich” for following the rules and ending up paying no or low taxes that’s his choice, but then he has proven that he is a hypocrite.

    As I noted, it is an insignificant fiscal issue and merely a political rant.

  5. doc: He’s trying to change the rules for everyone so that they’re more fair. Why can’t you get that through your Obamaphobic skull? Foregoing his own available deductions isn’t going to change anything.

    Why are you so stubbornly opposed to something even Ronald Reagan supported? Oh, wait! I know. It’s because Obama’s for it. You will never support anything Obama favors. Silly wingnut.

  6. One other thing, doc: You’re such a critic of government spending, but you’ve never given up your own place at the government teat. By your standards, that makes you a hypocrite. You demonize the government for giving you goodies, but you never forego those goodies. And then you criticize Obama for not skipping some of his available tax deductions. What a phony!

  7. I am not opposed to or in favor of the Buffet rule. It is a political ruse that avoids the real fiscal crisis of spending and decreased revenue that we face. It is worthless except as a political ploy. When will you get that through your thick skull eh?

    Think Al Gore, global warming, multiple mansions, corporate jets. That might help penetrate your calvarium.

    Even Candy Crowley (hardly a conservative) agrees with me.


    “A minimum 30% tax on million-dollar incomes won’t do much to eat away at the nation’s debt, it won’t create jobs, and no one expects it to get through the Democratic-controlled Senate, much less the Republican-majority House.

    Republicans say the Buffet Rule is a giant political smokescreen.”

  8. The government teat I am forced to suck on is shrinking every day Mr. C.

    My practice is by necessity hospital based. Hospital based physicians MUST except Medicare and Medicaid by law. I don’t have a choice, but take heart Mr. C, many physicians that do are indeed spitting out the teat.

    I guess if I was truly principled I would leave the profession I spent decades and hundreds of thousands of dollars learning but why should I let your perception of my hypocrisy throw that all away?

    I am good at what I do. I help save people’s lives every day and I am handsomely compensated (albeit about 20% less over the last 5 years). A little bit of ire from the likes of you I can take.

  9. Luke Fredrickson

    The good ex-doctor has pointed out something I have known for a while, based on my experiences in our for-profit health care system: most physicians are in their racket for one reason. The compensation.

    If more health care providers found their calling for selfless reasons, there would be no need to legally mandate coverage of the poor. And far fewer doctors choosing to forgo treatment because they see insufficient profit in healing poor customers.

    Oh, and the ex-doctor must have skipped a few too many humanities courses during his $200K+ education… doctors must “except” Medicare patients? Dr. Freud would have a clear diagnosis of that grammatical error.

  10. Luke,

    Typo’s aside, I am not an ex doctor. The moniker I use is a shortened “experienced doctor” . I chose that based on the topic of the original post which I commented on several years ago.

    I am interested to understand though why you think my post shows I am in the racket for “one reason”.

    I think it is cute that you think physicians should be like Catholic priests and nuns, although I fear if we switch to that model of compensation we may face a shortage of caregivers just like we face a shortage of clergy.

  11. Luke Fredrickson

    Doc, I made no assumptions about you individually choosing medicine for the money. My conclusions were formed over a long time and based on many experiences. Your “handsomely compensated” comment just brought the idea to mind.

    At least you concede it is a racket, though.

    And as for assuming you are retired, no malice intended. Your name threw me off, and your ubiquity in the comment section also led me to believe you were perhaps retired.

    The last point you made only reinforces my own, however. You imply the lure of getting rich is required to avoid a shortage of doctors…but this attracts just the kind of people who look at a poor sick person as a threat to their bottom line instead of a soul in need of healing.

  12. Luke,

    You should get serious about such a serious topic.

    Are there physicians who went into medicine with money as a primary motivation? You bet, and the vast majority of them that I know are miserable, and getting more so each day. But they represent a small minority of physicians.

    Physician training is long (at least 7 years post-college) and expensive (usually 6 figure tuition and opportunity lost during low paying residency).

    If all physicians agreed to work for free it would only cut overall health care cost by 8%. Not only is that not realistic, it isn’t enough.

    Physician compensation is not the problem with our health care system. It is poor and inappropriate utilization.

  13. “Physician compensation is not the problem with our health care system. It is poor and inappropriate utilization”.

    And who directs that “poor and inappropriate utilization”? Doctors of course. Patients do have the years of education to make those decisions.

    Doc, we finally agree on something.

  14. Doctors direct some utilization, particularly when it comes to some diagnostic testing and most insidiously when it is performed in an outpatient setting.

    But patients and their families have quite a bit of control over utilization. They will exercise that control when they feel that health care is a commodity that they are paying for rather than a “right” that is “free”. In fact, not only will they exercise control over cost, they will exercise control in relation to quality as well.

  15. Luke Fredrickson

    Doc, many, many millions of Americans know quite well that health care is a “commodity” because they cannot afford any…especially preventive care, which is a sad perversion. Insuring everybody will give HMOs the incentive to keep all people healthy instead of hand picking the profitable patients early and treating the rest in the ER later.

    Where I feel Americans have a misguided sense of entitlement is their expectation to receive hugely expensive longshot interventions when very ill. Pretty unique to us.

    My point about MD compensation was not meant as a solution to the rising cost of health care. I was simply expressing frustration at the “handsomely compensated” doctors who whine about low Medicare payments when they should be volunteering their time at local clinics. An expensive education is more than an investment in a future McMansion, it is an opportunity to help keep a community healthy.

    Using your logic that a huge sacrifice warrants a commensurate paycheck, we should be compensating our combat troops more handsomely than even an experienced doctor. But no, soldiers to do their job for its own sake.

    Doctors uniformly want the public to view medicine as a higher calling. Too many are then content to demand up front payment in cash from the non-insured. Wallet too skinny? Let me give you directions to the Crusader Clinic.

    Too few righteous doctors, too many self-righteous ones.

  16. Luke, I am beginning to wonder if you were denied access to medical school or something. Your post seems to be about jealousy over physician incomes rather than health care reform.

    Physicians do deserve to be well compensated, as they are in almost every country in the world. They must be smarter, be willing to train longer, work harder and take more risk than almost any other professional group.

    You may also be shocked to learn that I agree with you about those that serve in the military. Not that military training is as extensive or expensive as medical school/residency, but that our soldiers that serve in combat roles and particularly those that are wounded deserve to be handsomely compensated. I support the Wounded Warrior Project. I suggest you do so as well.

    HMO’s already have an incentive to keep people healthy. Healthy people use fewer services.

    I do agree with your point about misguided expectations in regards to expensive long shot interventions.

    Remember that many of the handsomely compensated doctors that are whining about Medicare payments are trying to keep their own doors open. Many of the doctors that whine are already providing care for the most under served populations (think rural and inner city locations).

    Physicians with hospital based practices, such as mine, never refuse care to a patient based on their ability to pay. We can’t, it’s illegal, and neither can the hospital. That is why there is so much cost shifting to those who can pay. Again, the hospitals that will be in the most trouble under the new reform will be those that already service the under served.

  17. Luke Fredrickson

    Denied access, lol. Doctor-speak? Anyway, you must be enured to the reality of being a patient today. Resentment for doctors can be well justified through exposure to the gamut of HMOs, not jealousy. Moving on…

    “HMO’s already have an incentive to keep people healthy. Healthy people use fewer services.” Doc, you are being disingenuous here. Of course this is true, but HMOs only care about their customers. So I say let’s make everybody a customer.

    “Again, the hospitals that will be in the most trouble under the new reform will be those that already service the under served.” I disagree here, as insurers will now help keep these people healthier and thus less likely to need pricey hospital visits for preventable disease. Plus the ratio of insured/uninsured will obviously improve = fewer costs to pass on to a growing number of coverd, paying patients.

  18. The average citizen making medical decisions (utilization) without proper medical education is at best poor medical care and at worst death…but it is cheap.

  19. Luke,

    I am fully aware of being a patient today, or at least the parent of a very sick patient. It is expensive, but you wouldn’t find me traveling to any other country in the world to obtain care.

    You think doctors make the rules for your HMO? Think again, they are made by bureaucrats at the insurance companies often following the lead of governmental bureaucrats at CMS. If you don’t like it now, you’re going to hate it later.

    You can’t really believe access to health care makes you healthy? Access to screening tests may help catch disease sooner when it is more cost effective to treat, but that won’t necessarily lower the cost of health care for the nation.

    What would really help is if people would eat less, exercise more, quit smoking, stop drinking, doing drugs, and stop engaging in other risky behaviors. How far are you willing to go to get that to happen?

    Attending medical school at the University of Wisconsin in the mid 90’s I was witness to the very earliest and most aggressive efforts to get people to quit smoking. I even participated by doing outreach education at local middle schools in Madison (shockingly, for free).

    During these efforts we had a health care economist who spoke to us, as somewhat of a contrarian and made some very interesting points. While getting an individual to stop smoking is clearly in the best interest of an individual and their family, he argued that it may not be in the best interest of overall health care spending.

    Smokers pay a lifetime of high taxes on cigarettes, get sick young and often die quickly. A massive MI or aggressive lung cancer will save tens if not hundreds of thousands of future health care dollars. Dead people don’t need future screening, treatment of less aggressive cancers like prostate cancer, a hip replacement, long term care for dementia, social security benefits etc.

    It is a somewhat macabre view point, but he had pretty good numbers to back it up. It all depends if you are interested in the individual or the herd.

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