Progressives are hoping that if Republicans won’t listen to President Obama on the Buffett Rule, then maybe they’ll listen to President Reagan.
The Center for American Progress unearthed video of Reagan making the case in 1985 for closing tax loopholes on the rich in strikingly similar terms to Obama, even leading an audience to cheers over the idea to tax millionaires at the same rate as bus drivers. Obama is currently promoting a plan to reform the tax code in order to prevent a billionaire like Warren Buffett from paying less than their secretary.
“In theory, some of those loopholes were understandable, but in practice they sometimes made it possible for millionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying ten percent of his salary, and that’s crazy,” Reagan says in the video. “Do you think the millionaire ought to pay more in taxes than the bus driver or less?”
“We continue to see support for the Buffett Rule growing in unexpected quarters,” Jennifer Palmieri, president of the Center for American Progress Action Fund told reporters in a conference call on the footage. “Now we have President Reagan speaking to us from 30 years ago to argue for the same type of equity.”
Democrats aren’t the only ones who’ve tried to use former presidents’ decades-old words in today’s tax fights. The CAP video bears a resemblance to a memorable ad by Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) in which he used footage of President Kennedy calling for lower taxes to sell himself to Democratic voters.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.