State of the Union to highlight Buffett rule as secretary sits in First Lady's box

WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 05: Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett attends the Fortune Most Powerful Women summit at Mandarin Oriental Hotel on October 5, 2010 in Washington, DC. Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Time Inc.

Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Time Inc.

Just hours after his potential Republican rival Mitt Romney revealed he paid a 14.5 percent tax rate on his $42 million in earnings in the past two years, President Obama on Tuesday night plans to use the ultimate platform -- his State of the Union address -- to charge that it's wrong to let millionaires pay so little into the system.

In his speech before a joint session of Congress tonight, Mr. Obama will offer more details of the so-called "Buffett Rule," according to White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer.

Last year, Mr. Obama proposed a measure he dubbed the "Buffett Rule" -- named for billionaire investor Warren Buffett -- to compel those making $1 million or more a year to pay a rate no lower than what middle income Americans pay. Taxpayers making $1 million or more often make their money through investment, or unearned, income, which is taxed at a lower rate than wage, or earned, income. Most Americans make their income through wages, which are taxed on a sliding scale that tops out at 35 percent.

The president named his proposed rule after Buffett after the Berkshire Hathaway chairman began publicly decrying the fact that in 2010, he paid only 17.4 percent of his taxable income to the government -- even though others in his office, including his secretary, paid a much higher rate.

To further drive home the message in tonight's speech, Buffett's secretary Debbie Bosanek, will be in First Lady Michelle Obama's box.

Mr. Obama has said that his remarks will focus on "rebuilding an economy where hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded - and an America where everybody gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everybody plays by the same set of rules."

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