Just More Words: The Sixth Spin

- April 15, 2012

Obama Strategist Offers The Latest Cycle Of Spin About The Buffett Tax


Spin #6: Buffett Tax Would Stabilize Fiscal Crisis And Also Be Fair

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Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace: “In the last week the President has made a couple of major speeches and devoted his entire weekend media address to the Buffet Rule. When the President introduced the Buffet Rule last September he said it was a matter of fairness and, and this is the quote, ‘we also stabilize our debt and deficits for the next decade.’ But here's the math: the Buffet rule that millionaires should pay a minimum tax of 30 percent would bring in $47 billion, $47 billion over the next decade while the President's budget adds $6.4 trillion to the deficit over the next decade. David, according to one estimate, the money you would get from the Buffet Rule would cover just 17 days of the increased deficit under the Obama budget.”

Obama  Strategist David Axelrod: “First of all, Chris, the President's proposal in total would cut the deficits by $4 trillion over the next decade and put us on the path to where the debt is stabilized and we’re able to manage it, where it’s just three percent of the total economy which is where everyone agrees we need, we need to be. In terms of the Buffet Rule, I remember when $47 billion seemed like a lot of money, it is a lot of money. There is a question - when you reduce the, when you eliminate the Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy that adds another $800 billion. So this is a piece of a larger pie along with $1.5 trillion . . .”

Wallace: “But would you agree, would you agree to cuts . . .”

Axelrod: “Look let me tell you something, Mitt Romney is out there arguing that we should cut Planned Parenthood because we can’t afford it, funding for women's health programs because we can’t afford it. That’s $300 million a year. He says we have to cut foreign aid by $100 million a year and that's because of, that’s because of the deficits. So you can't argue it both ways. This is a significantly larger piece of the budget.”

Wallace: “I am -- if I may, David, I am going to get into a lot of that with Ed Gillespie in the next segment. But you would certainly agree that when the President introduced it last September and he said the Buffet Rule would ‘stabilize our debt and deficit over the next decade,’ that wasn’t true.”

Axelrod: “No, what he said it is part of an overall plan that will stabilize our debt and deficit and which his plan would.”                                                                                                                                                       

Wallace: “That's not what he said.”

Axelrod: “Nobody can argue, nobody can argue, Chris, nobody can argue that it makes sense for people who are making $1 million or more to pay less than the average middle class worker in this country. So it both helps us stabilize the deficit and ensures an amount of fairness in our tax system. And if Mr. Gillespie and you want to argue otherwise, then so be it. But those $47 billion can be put to much greater use.”

(Fox News’ “Fox News Sunday,” 4/15/12)


SPIN #1: In September 2011, Obama Said The Buffett Tax Would Help “Stabilize Our Debt And Deficits For The Next Decade”

Obama Said Himself That The Buffett Tax Would Help Stabilize The Debt And Budget Deficit For The Next Decade. OBAMA: "What I've said is this is a very simple principle that everybody should understand: Warren Buffett's secretary shouldn't pay a lower [sic] tax rate than Warren Buffett. A teacher making $50,000 a year, or a firefighter making $50,000 a year or $60,000, shouldn't be paying a higher tax rate than somebody making $50 million a year. And that basic principle of fairness, if applied to our tax code, could raise enough money that not only do we pay for our jobs bill, but we also stabilize our debt and deficits for the next decade. And as I said when I made the announcement, this is not politics; this is math." (President Barack Obama, Remarks By The President At DNC Event, San Diego, CA, 9/26/11)

SPIN #2: “W.H.: Buffett Rule Not Answer To Debt” But About “Fairness”

The Obama White House Said The Buffett Tax Was About “Fairness” And Not Reducing The Debt. “The Obama administration is emphasizing ‘fairness’ over deficit reduction in its renewed pitch for the ‘Buffett rule’ ahead of next week’s scheduled Senate vote. Introducing a minimum 30 percent income tax on millionaires ‘was never our plan to bring the deficit down and get the debt under control,’ Jason Furman, the principal deputy director of the White House National Economic Council, told reporters on a conference call Monday afternoon. ‘This is not the president’s entire tax plan. We’re not trying to say this solves all our economic problems, all our budget problems.’” (Josh Boak, “W.H.: Buffett Rule Not Answer To Debt,” Politico, 4/10/12)

SPIN #3: Press Secretary Jay Carney Told Reporters “The President, No One Ever Suggested That Implementing The Buffett Rule Would Contribute In Large Measure To Reducing The Deficit”

White House Claimed That Nobody Ever Claimed The Buffett Tax Would Significantly Reduce The Deficit. CARNEY:  “I think the money we’re talking about here, $47 billion over 10 years, is nobody’s idea of a small amount, A. B, we never suggested -- the President, no one ever suggested that implementing the Buffett Rule would contribute in large measure to reducing the deficit.  The President has put forward a comprehensive deficit reduction plan that takes a balanced approach, that includes as a principle of tax reform the Buffett Rule, but that does not rely on -- and we never suggested it would rely on -- the Buffett Rule to reduce the deficit by a significant measure.  It is a principle of tax fairness. And $47 billion is money that in a world of finite resources we could be using to invest in the kind of -- in education, in innovation and in infrastructure, the kind of areas where investments are needed to continue to grow the economy in the 21st century -- areas which, by the way, under the Republican budget would be slashed dramatically in order to give more tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.” (White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, Press Gaggle, 4/10/12)

SPIN #4: Press Secretary Jay Carney Told Reporters The White House Position Hasn’t Changed And The Fact That It “Does Not By Itself Reduce The Deficit Doesn’t Make It Not Worth Doing”

White House Said Just Because The Buffett Tax Doesn’t Reduce The Deficit By Itself Doesn’t “Make It Not Worth Doing.” CARNEY: "Let me be just clear. The fact that the money saved by eliminating these tax advantages that the wealthiest have here, or reducing the tax advantages the wealthiest have here, does not by itself reduce the deficit doesn't make it not worth doing." CNN'S JESSICA YELLIN: "The question is, the White House position seems to have moved so I'm just trying to …" CARNEY: "The position is- what we've made clear from the beginning is that there's obviously savings here and that is an aspect of why it is important to do it. We have never made the case that this element of tax reform would by itself solve our deficit and debt challenges. Obviously we never made that case because the president put forward a comprehensive plan to deal with our deficit and debt challenges, of which tax reform was only a part." (White House Press Briefing, 4/11/12)

SPIN #5: Obama Says The Buffett Tax Would Promote Economic “Growth”

Obama Said The Buffett Tax Would Help The Economy Grow. “President Obama used his weekly address to continue pressuring lawmakers to pass his ‘Buffett Rule’ proposal, saying the measure would make the tax code more fair and help fund needed investments to grow the economy. ‘As many Americans rush to file their taxes this weekend, it’s worth pointing out that we’ve got a tax system that doesn’t always uphold the principle of everyone doing their part,’ Obama said in the address posted online Saturday. ‘This is not just about fairness, this is also about growth,’ he added.  ‘It’s about being able to make the investments we need to strengthen our economy and create jobs.  And it’s about whether we as a country are willing to pay for those investments.’” (Meghashyam Mali, “Obama: Buffett Rule Will Boost ‘Growth’,” The Hill, 4/14/12)

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