The Buffett Rule went down to defeat in the Senate yesterday, 51-45 (60 votes were needed for passage). No surprise there; the vote was understood by everyone to be nothing but political theater.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with bringing proposals up for a vote even though you know they won’t pass. On the contrary, this can be a valuable means of identifying differences between the parties and the positions of individual legislators. It is entirely appropriate to force your opponents to vote on a controversial measure, and then hammer them for their votes.
In that context, it is good to see that the vote fell almost entirely along party lines. One Republican (Susan Collins) voted yes, and one Democrat (Mark Pryor) voted no. That the Democrats were unable to scare or bully more Republicans into voting for the measure suggests that most people know the Buffett Rule isn’t a serious legislative proposal. Note that Scott Brown, who has been willing to part company with his party on important issues, voted against it. Apparently, even Massachusetts voters have caught on to the fact that the Democrats have no serious budget or tax plans to offer, and have resorted to trying to fool voters with meaningless stunts like the Buffett Rule.