Washington (CNN) – Senate Democratic leaders said Wednesday they are determined to push tax reforms President Barack Obama outlined in his State of the Union address, saying they would roll out bills throughout the election year to highlight their differences with Republicans.
Most are aimed at increasing taxes on the wealthy while easing the burden on the middle class.
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At the top of their list is a proposal known as the Buffett rule that would sharply increase taxes paid by many wealthy Americans.
Democrats pointed squarely at Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who revealed this week he paid only about 14 percent of his substantial earnings in taxes
"Republican presidential frontrunner is a perfect example of what's wrong with the tax code. An individual who makes in a two year period forty-three million dollars and pays a tax rate of less than fifteen percent suggests that maybe things need to be changed a little bit," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at a Capitol press conference.
"So, it's a priority for us to act on some kind Romney, I mean Buffett rule this year," added Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, purposely mixing up the names.
The Democratic leaders said they generally support having wealthy Americans pay at least 30% of their income in taxes but said it was premature to detail how they would ensure that.
Other tax reform measures the Democrats said they want to deal with this year include allowing the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy to expire; ensuring all corporations pay some taxes on their profits; increasing the taxes paid by hedge fund managers, and using the tax code to reward companies that create jobs in the U.S. and punish those that send jobs overseas.
Schumer said after the payroll tax cut fight in December, in which Democrats appeared to get the upper hand with the public, he is confident the strategy will succeed.
"Don't be surprised if election year pressures push Republicans to cooperate with this president more than they were planning too," Schumer said. "Otherwise they're going to find themselves on the wrong side of the middle class again and again."