The U.S. House of Representatives has put its stamp of approval on the Buffett Rule Act, legislation that could squeeze more money out of wealthy Americans. There's one very important distinction between the bill and the original Buffett Rule proposed by President Barack Obama, though.
The legislation passed by the House on Wednesday would ask millionaires to voluntarily give more money to the Treasury for debt reduction, whereas the original Buffett Rule would raise the tax rate to at least 30 percent on the wealthiest Americans.
Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise's bill would place a new "Tax Me More" checkbox on Internal Revenue Service forms that reads: "By checking here, I signify that in addition to my tax liability (if any), I would like to donate the included payment to be used exclusively for the purpose of paying down the national debt."
"The President keeps insisting that he wants to raise taxes on hard-working families and small businesses, and has used Warren Buffett as the poster-child for his class warfare scheme because Buffett complains that he doesn't pay enough in taxes," Scalise said in a written statement.
"If Warren Buffett and others like him truly feel they're not paying enough in taxes, they can use the Buffett Rule Act to put their money where their mouth is and voluntarily send in more to pay down the national debt, rather than changing the entire tax code to inflict more job-killing tax hikes on hard-working Americans."
The Treasury already allows taxpayers to contribute money to debt reduction. In 2011, taxpayers voluntarily coughed up more than $7.6 million to help reduce the national debt, which now stands at more than $16 trillion. Those contributions sound like a lot - until you consider that at that rate, assuming there are no more annual deficits, it would take more than 2,100 years to pay off the debt.
Also: the interest we're paying on the national debt this year will exceed $343 billion. Meaning that $7.6 million is, literally, a drop in the bucket.