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Poll: Six in ten support the "Buffett Rule"

Obama campaign pushing vote on "Buffet Rule"
President Obama is urging passage of the so-called "Buffett Rule," which would ensure that high income Americans pay at least 30 percent in taxes.

A new survey from Gallup has found that Americans favor President Obama's "Buffett Rule" proposal by a wide margin, with 60 percent saying they favor the rule and 37 percent opposing it.

In asking the question, Gallup did not actually use the term "Buffett Rule." Here's how the question was asked: "Would you favor or oppose Congress passing a new law that would require households earning $1 million a year or more to pay a minimum of 30 percent of their income in taxes?"

That conforms to the way President Obama has been describing the proposal, though the version of the bill set for a Senate vote on Monday is slightly more complicated. It would mandate that income above $2 million would be taxed at least at a 30 percent rate, with a graduated boost in the minimum marginal rates for income between $1 million and $2 million. The GOP-led House is not expected to take up the bill, and it is thus not expected to become law.

Seventy-four percent of Democrats, 63 percent of independents and 43 percent of independents told Gallup they support the Buffett Rule as articulated by Gallup. Fifty-four percent of Republicans opposed the rule.

Mr. Obama and his allies have been pushing the Buffett Rule in what appears in part to be an attempt to frame the general election. They has been casting the president as a fighter for economic fairness and presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney as a defender of a status quo that allowed Romney to pay an effective tax rate of just 13.9 percent on $21.7 million in income in 2010. While Mr. Obama wants to raise taxes on some of the highest earners via the Buffett Rule, Romney is proposing a tax cut for the highest earners.

Mr. Obama and first lady Michele Obama released their 2011 joint tax return on Friday, which showed they paid an effective rate of 20.5 percent on an adjusted gross income of $789,674. They would not have been impacted by the Buffett Rule had it been in effect during the 2011 tax period.

The Buffett Rule is named after wealthy investor Warren Buffett, who argues that it is wrong for a billionaire such as himself to pay a lower tax rate than his secretary.

In a separate Gallup poll last April, 59 percent of adults said they support increasing taxes on households making $250,000 or more per year. If the Bush-era tax cuts are allowed to expire at the end of the year, taxes will go up on all Americans. Mr. Obama favors letting those tax cuts expire for households making more than $250,000 per year, but extending them for those making less than that threshold; Republicans want to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for everyone. 

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