Obama in fresh push to make tax system fairer

President Barack Obama has stepped up his election-year insistence that the wealthy pay a greater share of taxes, renewing his call yesterday for Congress to raise taxes on millionaires.

Hoping to draw a sharp contrast with wealthy Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Mr Obama yesterday outlined his support for the so-called “Buffett rule” in Florida.

He said: “Do we want to keep giving tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans like me, or Warren Buffett, or Bill Gates – people who don’t need them and never asked for them? Or do we want to keep investing in things that will grow our economy and keep us secure? That’s the choice.”

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The Buffett rule is named after billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who said it was wrong for him to pay a lower tax rate than that levied on his secretary.

Mr Obama’s return to the subject is a prelude to a Senate vote next week when millions of Americans prepare to file their income tax returns. The plan has little chance of passing Congress, but Senate Democrats say the issue underscores the need for economic fairness.

Mr Obama’s team has made the Buffett rule a key part of its message, saying it shows clear differences with Mr Romney, who has opposed the plan and withstood criticism from Democrats for paying about 15 per cent in federal taxes for 2011 on income mostly derived from investments. Investment income is taxed at a lower rate than employment income.

The White House said the tax proposal would restore fairness to the system.

l Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum has suspended his campaign, leaving Mitt Romney as the party’s presumptive nominee. The former Pennsylvania senator made the announcement last night.