The Senate is poised to vote today on the Buffett Rule, which would raise taxes on some of the wealthiest Americans and raise the debate over fairness in a crummy economy.
The way the tax code is structured right now allows high earners to pay a lower tax rate on capital gains and investment income than middle-class workers pay on their wages. It's not, as I thought, the rule that you shouldn't get seconds before everyone has had firsts (that's the buffet rule); in fact, it's named after financier Warren Buffett, whose earnings are taxed at a lower rate than his secretary's.
But a vote today in the Senate will kill the bill, as this illuminating news analysis from the National Journal, which goes into some policy weaknesses, explains.
Essentially, the vote comes down to whether Congress is willing to raise taxes on the wealthy, which Republicans, almost uniformly, are not.
Democrats say that raising taxes on the wealthy is a matter of fairness, as programs for the working class, like home heating, are cut. But Republicans argue that raising taxes will hurt job creators and the economy.
Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, is in the first category. Republican Matt Doheny is in the second.
Which is, in my view, the great debate in 2012. The Buffett Rule is just one more way to get talking about the all-you-can-eat debate.