In his latest weekly radio address, President Obama featured what will no doubt be a mainstay of his reelection campaign: the “Buffett Rule,” which says that rich people should pay at least the same tax rate as middle-class folks. It’s named after mega-investor Warren Buffett, who famously declared that he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. President Obama and his supporters have run with that, and are employing it to convince the public that such is the norm for the despised “rich.”
Of course that’s not the norm: Buffett is the rare taxpayer who makes almost all his income through investments, and top earners have much higher tax rates than people earning $200,000 and below. So this is clearly not about fairness – it’s about politics.
Two, though, can play at this game. If the President can engage in class warfare he’s also a fair target of it. So why not implement something called the “Obama Rule,” which demands that lower-income people get at least the same educational options as the President? That only seems fair, right, like the Buffett Rule? Indeed, the President himself noted in his weekly address that “ we…have to pay for investments that will help our economy grow and keep our country safe [such as] education.” So why, then, does the President’s 2013 budget zero-out funding for the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program while his daughters go to Sidwell Friends? Shouldn’t other kids in Washington have access to the same excellent private schools as the President’s daughters?
Class envy is hardly the right reason to demand school choice – the right reasons are freedom, competition, innovation, and specialization – but of course all kids should have the same options as President Obama’s daughters! As the President concluded in his weekly address (though, obviously, he wasn’t talking about school choice): “That’s how we’ll make this country a little fairer, a little more just, and a whole lot stronger.” So let’s invoke the Obama Rule, and give lower-income families the same educational choices as the President! It’s simply the fair thing to do.