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POLITICAL NOTEBOOK

Obama intensifies push for ‘Buffett Rule’

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Obama gave a youngster some help during Monday’s White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn. Thousands showed up for the 134-year-old tradition, started by President Rutheford B. Hayes in 1878.

A week before a Senate vote, the Obama campaign ramped up its advocacy Monday of the “Buffett Rule,’’ which would impose a minimum effective tax rate of 30 percent on the wealthiest Americans.

“We don’t envy success in this country; we all strive to achieve it,’’ Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said on a conference call. “But we also know that anyone who does well for themselves should do their fair share in return. The Buffett Rule will help make our system reflect our values, so that all Americans play by the same rules, do their fair share, and get a shot at success.’’

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Messina was joined on the call by Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, the majority whip, and Representative Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin. The conference call kicked off a week of promotion for legislation enacting the rule, including a visit to Exeter, N.H., by Vice President Joe Biden Thursday.

Durbin stressed the revenue-generating potential of the Buffet Rule, citing a Joint Committee on Taxation estimate that the higher rate would raise $47 billion over the next 10 years.

“We know that to reduce the deficit, we’re going to need revenue,’’ Durbin said. “And if we’re going to have revenue as part of it, let’s make certain that we collect it in a fair way.’’

Baldwin offered practical examples of what Buffett Rule revenue could fund. The taxes of just one of the 400 richest Americans, she said, could pay for 5,400 maximum Pell Grants or enroll 3,600 children in Head Start programs.

The Senate is expected to hold an initial vote on the rule Monday. It is not expected to reach the level of support needed to prevent a GOP filibuster.

Republicans have called the Buffet Rule “class warfare’’ and argued that its deficit-reducing power is overstated. On Monday, the Mitt Romney campaign said that raising taxes on job creators drags down the economy.

The Buffett Rule is named for billionaire Warren Buffett, a vocal critic of a tax system that allows him to pay an effective tax rate less than that paid by his secretary.

Though the highest federal income tax rate is 35 percent, many wealthy Americans earn much of their money through capital gains on investments, which are taxed at only 15 percent. Their effective tax rates - the percentages paid on all forms of income - can be less than those of middle-income earners.

Romney, for instance, paid an effective tax rate of just 14 percent on $45 million worth of income over the last two years, according to tax returns he released in January.

Romney pulls Santorum ad in deference to ill daughter

Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney temporarily backed off a plan to aggressively target Rick Santorum in his home state of Pennsylvania, as Santorum took a break from the campaign trail to tend to his ill daughter.

On Monday, the Romney campaign asked Pennsylvania television stations to pull a negative ad against Santorum and replace it with a positive one about the former Massachusetts governor.

“We have done this out of deference to Senator Santorum’s decision to suspend his campaign for personal family reasons,’’ Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in a statement.

Santorum’s daughter Bella, 3, who suffers from Trisomy 18, was hospitalized last week. Trisomy 18 is a genetic disorder that can arrest physical and mental development, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Santorum, a distant second behind Romney in the race for the GOP nomination, announced Wednesday that he would take a four-day break from the campaign, fueling speculation that he would end his candidacy. But Saturday, his campaign released a slate of events for this week and insisted the former senator from Pennsylvania would stay in it.

The Santorum campaign also said he would extend his break until Tuesday to help care for his daughter, who was expected to leave the hospital Monday.

Romney had planned a deluge of ads designed to wrest votes from the Keystone State’s native son. Pennsylvania holds its primary April 24, and the contest is a self-proclaimed must-win for Santorum if he is to remain viable. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, citing a source close to the Romney campaign, reported over the weekend that Romney had bought $2.9 million worth of advertising in Pennsylvania.

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