NPR logo Making An Economic Point - The First Lady's Guests At The State Of The Union


Making An Economic Point - The First Lady's Guests At The State Of The Union

A president's State of the Union speech is historically filled with symbolism, including the guests who join the first lady in her box at the Capitol.

Tonight Michelle Obama will sit with Debbie Bosanek, secretary to financier Warren Buffettt, and the inspiration behind the proposed "Buffett rule", as The Washington Post notes. Buffett, the billionaire, observed that he paid a lower tax rate than his secretary, because his money comes from investments, while she earns a regular salary and draws the higher tax bracket.

As NPR's Tamara Keith reported last year, the Obama administration hasn't spelled out details of the Buffett rule except to say millionaires should pay the same tax rate as that paid by a middle class family. CBS says Obama will lay out further details tonight.

The emphasis on the tax rates of millionaires comes just as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney released his income tax returns from the past two years. As Eyder wrote earlier, Romney's earnings for these years were in excess of $42 million dollars. He paid more than six million dollars in taxes:

"That means that in 2010, (Romney's) tax rate was 13.9 percent, and in 2011, it's expected to be 15.4 percent, lower than many Americans who pay taxes on wages."

Debbie Bosanek's presence will certainly be felt.

She won't be alone: other guests include former astronaut Mark Kelly, the husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) who is leaving Congress this week as she focuses on recuperating from gunshot wounds she suffered a year ago during an attack in a supermarket. And Laurene Powell Jobs, businesswoman and widow of Apple chief Steve Jobs, will be there.

Politco has the full list.