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The GOP's "Buffett Rule" Counterpunch

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse's Buffett Rule legislation takes center stage in American politics today, with the Senate expected to vote on the measure tonight.

But it's not the only tax measure Congress will take up with Tax Day approaching. The GOP-controlled House will consider a measure, sponsored by Majority Leader Eric Cantor, that would hand a 20 percent tax deduction to businesses employing fewer than 500 people. That's about 99.9 percent of American businesses, according to the Associated Press.

Economists don't think the GOP's tax deduction for small business would do much to spur hiring. And, as the GOP is quick to note, the Buffett Rule would barely make a dent in the deficit. Neither measure, of course, is expected to make it through a divided Congress.

But if these are pure political plays, Whitehouse's bill clearly has the upper hand for now - with a big assist from President Obama, who sees clear advantages in promoting the wealthy-pay-their-fair-share measure in the run-up to his fall tilt with rich guy Mitt Romney.

The measure may not prove its true political value, though, for months.

Democrats will surely resurrect the bill a few times between now and November - Senator Whitehouse has said as much. And if the economy continues to sputter, and the GOP's tax-cutting proposals get more attention, the power of the Warren-and-his-secretary tale - in its simplicity and call to morality - may be the best tool the party has to blunt the impact of the bad news.  

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