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Washington Watch - April 11, 2012

Fast Facts: Congress

Both the Senate and the House are currently in recess for two weeks. Upon returning on the 16th, both chambers will be focused on the 2013 budget and appropriations process, while also keeping an eye on the November 2012 elections. 

Traditionally, in election years, we can anticipate that the Senate and House will be in Washington through the end of July and then take the month of August as a “district work period,” returning briefly in September to address any fiscal issues and then recess until the November election. 

The NASE expects a flurry of activity in the next three months.

White House, GOP Squabble Over Buffet Rule

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has come out strong against the Buffet rule, which has been widely supported by the White House and Democrats. The Buffet Rule is named after Warren Buffet, who revealed that he paid less in taxes than his secretary. Ryan said that the Buffett Rule would pay for only a small portion of Obama's deficit spending proposal. The legislation would tax job creators and hurt small business owners that make more than one million per year. 

Many wealthy individuals glean income from investments instead of paychecks. Supporters of the Buffet rule argue that the tax code is inherently unfair to all but wealthy individuals, who benefit from lower corporate tax rates. 

The Buffett rule has been in the spotlight in recent weeks, with supporters arguing that wealthy Americans disproportionately benefit from the lower tax rates because they derive large amounts of income from investments rather than paychecks. Mitt Romney acknowledged earlier this year that he pays about a 15% rate. The average tax rate for the top 0.1 percent of households stands at nearly the lowest rate in more than 50 years, according to the National Economic Council.

New Efforts To Curb Smartphone Thefts

The FCC has teamed up with wireless carriers to introduce a new database to protect smartphone users should their device go missing. The goal of the system is to track the device once it is stolen, then block it from being used. 

Certain cell phone users may already purchase services through a carrier to block calls on their phone if it is stolen.

Stay tuned to Washington Watch for more on this story.

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