Obama: Buffett Rule ‘Maybe Not’ the Solution to Deficit – But ‘Step’ in ‘Right Direction’

By Fred Lucas | April 3, 2012 | 6:34 PM EDT

Copies of President Barack Obama's fiscal 2013 budget arrive at the House Budget Committee. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama ripped into the House Republican budget Tuesday, but conceded that the centerpiece of his own budget proposal – a tax hike on high income earners – may not reduce the deficit.

“In a few weeks there will be a vote on what we call the Buffett Rule. Simple concept -- if you make more than $1 million a year, not if you have $1 million, if you make more than $1 million annually, then you should pay at least the same percentage of your income in taxes as middle class families do,” Obama said, speaking to newspaper executives at the American Society of Newspaper Editors.

“On the other hand, if you make under $250,000 a year, like 98 percent of American families do, then your taxes shouldn’t go up,” he said.

But Obama added: “Now you’ll hear some people point out that the Buffett rule alone won’t raise enough revenue to solve our deficit problems. Maybe not. But it’s definitely a step in the right direction.”

The president’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget proposal said: “No household making over $1 million annually should pay a smaller share of its income in taxes than middle-class families pay. As Warren Buffett has pointed out, his effective tax rate is lower than his secretary’s. And, the President is now specifically proposing that in observance of the Buffett rule, those making over $1 million should pay no less than 30 percent of their income in taxes.” (See earlier story.)

Obama spent most of his speech denouncing the Republican budget, which passed the House last week.

The budget, spearheaded by House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), aims to slash the deficit and tax rates in return for eliminating many popular tax breaks. Obama criticized Republican front-runner Mitt Romney for endorsing the budget as “marvelous.”

Obama said Tuesday that the Ryan plan would gut Medicare and other programs such as aid to college students and highway and rail projects.

“This congressional Republican budget is something different altogether. It is a Trojan horse,” Obama said. “Disguised a deficit reduction plan, it is really an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country. It is thinly veiled social Darwinism.

The president added: “It is antithetical to our entire history as a land of opportunity and upward mobility to everybody who is willing to work for it, a place where prosperity doesn’t trickle down from the top but grows out from the heart of the middle class, and by gutting the very things we need to grow an economy that’s built to last. Education and training. Research and development. Our infrastructure. It is a prescription for decline.”

The Senate has not proposed a budget for more than a year. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said it likely would not propose one.