Republican Buffet Rule: PayUp (Donate) If You Want To

Republicans have introduced legislation to let Millionaires, Billionaires, and any American, no matter his/her financial status, pay more in federal taxes, if they want, beginning with a $1.00 donation. The “new” legislation, S.1676, amends the IRS Code of 1986 “to provide for taxpayers making donations with their returns of income tax to the Federal Government to pay down the public debt.” The Act is cited as the ‘Buffet Rule Act of 2011.’ A couple of questions: 1) Does S.1676 replace the existing Public Debt Reduction Act of 1961, known as Public Law 87-58? 2) If so why, do we need another that seems to duplicate the existing? 3) Why do all monetary gifts in both S.1676 and the existing Public Law go into the General Fund? – a very big deal, and bad idea. 4) Why haven’t Republicans been talking about the existing Law, and chiding Buffet and Obama every chance they have?

Public Deficit Reduction Fund

In 1961 it was deemed necessary to give the Federal Government the authority to receive monetary gifts and others:

…gifts may be in the form of money or an outstanding governmental obligation (such as a bond). If the gift is in the form of real or personal property then the property is sold with the proceeds from the sale used to reduce the public debt. Gifts may be inter vivos gifts or as a testamentary bequest. Contributions donated to the Public Debt
Reduction Fund qualify as a charitable donation and can be taken as a deduction by those who itemize their income tax deductions on tax returns the following tax year.

So, the needed authority was given. A few months ago, ABC reported on the 1961 Public Debt Reduction Fund:

The debt-reduction fund was established by Congress in 1961 in order to accept a $20-million donation that Susan Vaughan Clayton, a wealthy Texan, left to the federal government in her will. The fund is now managed by the Bureau of Public Debt, a branch of the Treasury Department.

Ultimately, all the donations end up in the Treasury’s general fund out of which almost all government expenditures are paid.

The ABC article said that $2 Million had been donated to the Public Debt Reduction Fund for this year, and more than $65 Million since 1961. See a yearly accounting of fiscal donations from the American people here. Most of the individual donations have been very “tiny, tiny” amounts.

At this minute, along with Senator Thune’s S.1676, there are other similar bills with the same idea, and there have been duplicates of the same idea over the years. Trying to document the various bills and determine what happened to them, is a mess, so I’m not trying.

If Senator Thune’s bill will put an end to Warren Buffet’s rhetoric, then I’m all for it. If it will shame Barack Obama, then I’m all for it. In the meantime, Republicans must stand at microphones and make the public aware, that for all the posturing from Buffet and Obama, this very minute, Buffet and friends can write any check for $1 or more and send it in to the Public Debt Reduction Fund. He might mention that these high-roller will never do so because they know the money WILL NOT BE USED FOR DEFICIT REDUCTION.

How do you make a contribution to reduce the debt?

There are two ways for you to make a contribution to reduce the debt:

    • You can make a contribution online either by credit card, checking or savings account atPay.gov
    • You can write a check payable to the Bureau of the Public Debt, and in the memo section, notate that it’s a Gift to reduce the Debt Held by the Public. Mail your check to:Attn Dept G
      Bureau of the Public Debt
      P. O. Box 2188
      Parkersburg, WV 26106-2188

Buffet and friends can also send a separate check for Public Debt Reduction when they pay their taxes this year in April 2012. It’s tax deductible in the next tax year. While at the microphone, Republicans must make the public aware that Warren Buffet is believed to owe about $1 Billion in back taxes, and has for 6 years. “We the People” should know that our tax money (multiple thousands) is being used to keep IRS attorneys in Court to fight Buffet’s arrogant refusals to pay. I support his right to do so, but eventually there has to be a settlement, and it should be long before 6 years. After all, he says he pays only 17% in taxes, so paying 17% shouldn’t be a problem. I  invite him to share the sacrifice.

Most important is the fact that the $2 Million received this year, and the $65 Million received since 1961, has gone into the General Fund. Where are the checks written to the Treasury paying down the debt by $65 Million as the donors expected might happen? I’d wager there has been no pay back. We all know the General Fund is used to spend ‘from.’ It’s irrelevant that $65 Million is next to nothing, not even a drop in a bucket of debt, to pay it down, but never-the-less it should be paid down. These donations do nothing but give Congress more change to spend. Once more, businessmen and women will not give to a Deficit Reduction Reduction Fund going into the General Fund, because they understand their “monetary gift” will be used for anything but a pay down.

Linked by John Carey at SENTRY JOURNAL in Teeing it Up Around the Links

Posted by Maggie @ Maggie’s Notebook

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