Schumer: Buffett rule is a matter of "fairness"

(CBS News) -- President Obama's proposal to make sure the wealthy pay at least the same tax rate as middle class workers is a matter of "fairness," said New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer, adding that the Republican charge of class warfare is a "bogus argument."

"This bill is a question of fairness, making people believe in the (tax) code, and it brings in some revenues, no question about it," Schumer said in a interview with "CBS This Morning," noting that, at a minimum, the government would collect an additional $47 billion if the proposal were to become law.

The proposal, named after billionaire investor Warren Buffett, would establish a 30 percent tax rate on income over $1 million. Many wealthy individuals pay rates that are about half of that under the current tax code, which favors investment, or unearned, income over wage, or earned, income.

"One of our great problems in America, which people don't focus on enough, is that middle class incomes have actually gone down, median income went down over the last decade, but the income of people who are in the top 1 percent or 0.01 percent has gone way up," Schumer said.

The top 1 percent of Americans made 23 percent of the income in the United States, Schumer noted.

Asked about Republican charges that Mr. Obama and the Democrats are engaging in "class warfare" when they talk about income equality for political gain, Schumer said that "is such a bogus argument."

"We have believed as country that higher income people should pay a higher percentage of income" for a 100 years, Schumer said, "there is no class warfare involved, it simply a question of fairness."

Opponents of the proposal, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, have said the burgeoning U.S. deficits cannot be eliminated simply by taxing the rich.

"It's not going to answer the whole question. That is not an argument against it. You gotta start somewhere," Schumer said.