Ideological war looms as Obama takes on the rich


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Some call it class warfare, others a return to fiscal sanity. Either way, Barack Obama will attempt to call time on a golden era for the very wealthiest Americans today, by proposing that people who earn more than a million dollars a year should pay tax at the same rate as the middle classes.

The President's plan is toxic to Republicans, meaning it stands little chance of becoming law in the immediate future. But the White House hopes it will instead define the parameters of the ongoing debate over the economy, which seems likely to dominate next year's presidential election.

In a statement this afternoon, Mr Obama will announce the steps he would like the US to take to cut its budget deficit. Alongside a string of measures to reduce government spending, he is expected to argue that the roughly 235,000 taxpayers who declare earnings of $1m (£633,000) or above must be prepared to contribute more.

The White House is expected to call its proposal the "Buffett Rule", a reference to the billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who recently complained that he paid a lower rate of tax than his secretary. The influential Republican congressman Paul Ryan appeared on Fox News yesterday to dub the plan "class warfare", but Democrats believe – and many polls suggest – that the public will support Mr Obama's plan.

US taxpayers earning more than $1m pay an average of 24.4 per cent tax – less than their counterparts on the median wage of $50,000.