Who Says There's a "Buffett Rule"?

Carol Platt Liebau
Posted: Sep 18, 2011 10:24 PM

President Obama is trying to institute a "Buffett rule" -- since billionaire Warren Buffet is willing to pay higher taxes, so should any American deemed "high income" by the Obama administration.  

But if the President thinks this is going to add lots of new money to the treasury, he ought to think twice. More people paying lower rates will actually better achieve his objective.
What's more, since when does one billionaire's willingness to pay higher taxes mean that everyone should have to?  If, in years to come, a billionaire Thurston Howell announces his absolute unwillingness to pay a cent in taxes, does that mean that a different president should institute a "Howell rule" -- that is, that no one should pay taxes?  Of course not -- but the hypo points out the silliness of trying to craft national policy based on the proclivities of one (very rich) person.  
Finally, as it debunks most of Buffett's claims about his tax rates relative to his secretary's, the Wall Street Journal also points out that Warren Buffett has already managed to shelter the bulk of HIS wealth from the tax man.  (Doesn't "fairness" demand that the rest of the "rich" -- i.e. those earning $250,000 and up -- be given the same opportunity before the implementation of the "Buffett rule"?) 
If it's so essential that everyone with anything to pay "contributes" more, why doesn't Mr. Buffett simply rearrange his foundation so that his enormous wealth goes to the government, rather than to a (charitable) tax shelter?