Buffett Rule Tax Day Push

Usually the week leading up to April 15, the federal income tax filing day, belongs to conservatives who have the change to score uncontested goal after goal against an unloved and unlovable tax system, and more broadly, the public commitments that make it necessary.

But this year, it looks like Democrats will for once try to take the initiative with a “tax fairness” campaign that will have the added benefit of directing public attention to Mitt Romney’s balance sheet. Here’s Jonathan Wiesman’s description:

President Obama and Senate Democrats will kick off a coordinated pressure campaign on Republicans next week ahead of a tax day vote on legislation to enact the president’s “Buffett Rule,” which would ensure that the rich pay at least 30 percent of their income in taxes.

Mr. Obama will travel to Florida on Tuesday for a speech on the Buffett Rule, named after the billionaire investor Warren E. Buffett, who has made a point of saying that he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. The Obama campaign will hold Buffett Rule events in other swing states that day, and Senate Democratic leaders have encouraged Democratic senators to get involved with those campaign efforts….

The push comes ahead of a procedural vote on April 16 that will decide whether the Senate will even debate the bill, and Democrats give it little chance of reaching the necessary 60-vote threshold.

Wiesman’s article goes on to debate whether the Buffett Rule specifically, or “fairness” generally, is a winning election-year economic message.

I think this sort of argument falls prey to the amazingly persistent and pernicious idea that whole issue areas “belong” to one party of the other. No, it doesn’t make much sense for tax fairness to become an overriding issue for Democrats this year. But it makes even less sense for Democrats to fall mute or try to change the subject every time Republicans talk about taxes.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.