Wrapping the wealthy in the term “job creator,” Republican lawmakers are hammering President Obama over the “Buffett rule,” a tax reform policy based on the simple and popular notion that millionaires should pay their fair share in taxes. To the GOP, this is a surefire way to ensure millionaires or “job creators” do not invest in the economy. “The reason we tax cigarettes in this country is to get people to stop smoking,” said House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI). “If you tax capital more, you get less capital. If you tax job creators more, you get fewer jobs.”
But a surprising group of people find that to be entirely untrue: the “job creators” themselves. As the billionaire behind the Buffett Rule, Warren Buffett, explained, “I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone — not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 — shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain. People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off.”
Indeed, 200 millionaires created a group known as the Patriotic Millionaires to make this exact case. In a direct rebuttal of the GOP, members of the group like Ask.com founder Garrett Gruener noted that a higher tax rate makes “zero difference” in how he invests:
Ask.com founder and Oakland venture capitalist Garrett Gruener said that changes in the marginal tax rates make “zero difference” about where he is going to invest.
“The kind of investing I’ve done for the last 25 years isn’t based on how a few points of the income tax rates change,” said Gruener, a Democrat and member of the Patriotic Millionaires. But “somehow, the Republicans have managed to convince 98 percent of the people that they are affected by how 2 percent of the population is taxed.”[…]
Business owners also dismantled the other Republican talking point that higher tax rates will harm small businesses. “I’m not sure what the connection is” between raising tax rates and hiring, said Anchor Brewing CEO Keith Greggor. Anchor has added 26 full-time and 10 part-time employees since last year. Not a lot of “small-business owners I know are millionaires,” Greggor added. SF Made, an organization that represents 230 San Francisco manufacturers with 100 or fewer employees, said if there is a connection between raising taxes and inhibiting small-business investment, “we haven’t seen it.”
Patriotic Millionaires launched a video last month challenging Republican millionaires in Congress for their opposition to the Buffett Rule, stating that millionaire lawmakers’ “continued support of policies that advance their own economic self-interests is un-American.” But if Republican lawmakers are unwilling to listen to the “job creators” they say they speak for, then perhaps they will heed the advice of their figurehead President Ronald Reagan. After all, the Buffett rule is practically his idea.
Disclaimer: The thoughts and opinions of this post are the author’s alone and do not represent those of Workplace Fairness.
This blog originally appeared in ThinkProgress on October 3, 2011. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Tanya Somanader is a reporter/blogger for ThinkProgress.org at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Tanya grew up in Pepper Pike, Ohio and holds a B.A. in international relations and history from Brown University. Prior to joining ThinkProgress, Tanya was a staff member in the Office of Senator Sherrod Brown, working on issues ranging from foreign policy and defense to civil rights and social policy.