The former Massachusetts governor said the proposal to raise taxes on the rich being championed by Democratic President Barack Obama is divisive. The Buffett Rule would impose a minimum effective tax rate of 30 percent on wealthy Americans, those earning more than $1 million a year.
Romney criticized the Buffett Rule during an April 2012 campaign speech in Rhode Island. "The new source of division is to say, ‘Let’s find the very most successful in our country and say they’re bad guys. Go after ‘em. And let’s divide America.’ Look, this nation is one nation under God. Dividing America is not going to work out."
Why Romney Opposes the Buffett Rule
Romney has called the Buffett Rule a "gimmick." On the 2012 campaign trail, he said the revenue generated by the Buffett Rule would raise a relatively small amount revenue.
"Someone calculated that the taxes he would raise in his Buffett rule would pay for 11 hours of government. This is not exactly a grand idea," Romney said.
The Washington, D.C.-based Tax Policy Center estimated the Buffett Rule would generate at least $47 billion and as much as $162 billion over the course of a decade. It would raise taxes on about 217,000 American households.
Romney also argued that the Buffett Rule would damage the economy. "You’re going to choke off a lot of the capital that goes into creating new enterprises and creating jobs," Romney said following Obama's State of the Union address in January 2012. "You’ll choke off the growth of America’s economy."
Buffett Rule Impact on Romney
The Buffett Rule would have a significant impact on the amount taxes Romney pays. In 2010, his effective tax rate on earnings of about $21 million was 13.9 percent, according to published reports. In 2011, Romney's effective tax rate was 15.4 percent on the same amount.
Romney paid about $6.2 million in taxes on earning of about $42.5 million those two years, according to published reports.
Imposition of the Buffett Rule would double the amount of taxes Romney pays.
Buffett Rule in Election 2012
Obama and his campaign repeatedly called for passage of the Buffett Rule in what many pundits believed was an attempt to remind struggling American voters of Romney's wealth.
The legislation was said to have little chance of passing through Congress, as Republicans intended to filibuster and Democrats could not muster the 60 votes needed to override the stalling tactic.
Romney was by far the wealthiest candidate in the 2012 presidential race. Personal financial disclosures reported his net worth as being between $85 million and $264 million. Romney was reportedly among the 3,140 richest individuals in the United States.
Obama, by comparison, was worth between $2.8 million and $11.8 million at the time, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research organization that tracks money in politics.
Criticism of Romney on Buffett Rule
Democrats criticized Romney for opposing tax increases on the wealthiest Americans. Some of the them including Vice President Joe Biden described the former Massachusett's governor's opposition to the Buffett the "Romney Rule."
"The Buffett Rule says that multimillionaires should pay at least the same percentage of their income in taxes as middle-class families do," Biden said. "The Romney Rule says the very wealthy should keep the tax cuts and loopholes they have, and get an additional new tax cut every year that is worth more than what the average middle-class family makes in an entire year."