If you've heard anything about Mayor Michael Bloomberg and taxes in the past 24 hours, it is surely that Bloomberg slapped down the "Buffett rule". Or as CBS News trumpeted, "Mayor Bloomberg Speaks Out Against President Obama's 'Buffett Rule.'"
It's a nice news story: One super duper rich guy disagreeing with another super duper rich guy about how much they should pay in taxes.
But that's not what happened -- and, to boot, the more important story was buried.
While Bloomberg did say yesterday morning on "Meet the Press" is that the Buffett rule was "theatrics" and that most wealthy people paid a higher percentage of their income in taxes than ordinary people, he didn't actually voice opposition to raising taxes on capital gains and dividends.
The most concrete thing he did say, though, was that everyone should pay higher taxes:
“If you are going to raise taxes, you are going to have to raise taxes on everybody. I would suggest 2 percent or 3 percent on everybody,” said Bloomberg. “For the average person that's $150. For the wealthy, it's a lot of money. But that's the only way you're going to get something through Congress.”
Now, I think Bloomberg is dead wrong that an across-the-board tax cut would fare better in Congress and I think that his flat 3 percent suggestion is way off. But, otherwise, what we have here is another example of why I like Mike.
In fact, Bloomberg is exactly correct in his overall point: Merely raising taxes on the rich does not generate enough revenues to reduce the deficit without big cuts in entitlement programs. I have long argued that we need to roll back the Bush tax cuts in their entirety. Bloomberg is basically suggesting something similar and staking out a position well outside the mainstream by calling for across the board tax increases.
Too bad the media didn't explain any of this.