Class warfare will begin almost as soon as Congress returns next week from spring break.
The Senate, returning April 16, will immediately face a vote on the "Paying a Fair Share Act of 2012." Known as the "Buffet Rule," the bill would raise taxes on those earning more than $1 million and is intended to ensure that the nation's wealthiest pay at least 30 percent.
The bill is unlikely to pass, but Democrats do hope it will give them an additional political advantage heading into this year's election.
The vote is scheduled for the eve of the April 17 filing deadline faced by most of the nation's taxpayers. It's the latest in a string of attempts by Senate Democrats to raise taxes on the rich as a way of rallying middle-class and working-class voters behind them ahead of the November elections.
The legislation is named after billionaire Warren Buffet, who in 2011 declared he was paying a lower tax rate on his investment income than his secretary had paid on her salary.
While the bill is unlikely to win the 60 votes it needs to advance, Democrats who run the Senate promised they will continue to push for a vote as a way of pressuring Republicans in a tough election year. The bill is the latest in a series of measures both parties have introduced on Capitol Hill in recent months almost exclusively to score political points. Others include budget proposals that lack any bipartisan support and a measure to resurrect an oil pipeline President Obama opposed.
Republicans generally oppose the Buffet Rule legislation, arguing that a tax increase will only worsen the nation's economic woes because many small business owners fall into the $1 million income range.
"If we come up short of the 60 votes needed to pass the bill we are going to keep pushing this issue all year long," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., the No. 3 Democrat in the Senate
Schumer characterized the legislation as "an emerging contrast with Republicans," who he claims are trying to cut taxes on the wealthy at the same time they're proposing major cuts in federal programs that aid the poor.
Schumer said the legislation is a winner for the Democrats, who have to defend 23 Senate seats this year to maintain control of the upper chamber.
"It animates our party, animates the public," Schumer said. "Most people talk about it as something we should do."
This isn't a new tactic for Democrats, who last year forced votes on a millionaires surtax and tried unsuccessfully to include such a tax increase in a payroll tax cut deal.
Multiple polls show that the public does generally support higher taxes for the wealthy.
But it remains to be seen whether it will translate into votes for Democrats when the elections roll around in November, said Frank Newport, editor in chief of the Gallup Poll.
"I don't think our data show that this is a high priority issue," Newport said. "Americans are focused on the economy and jobs."
Still, he added, "it is clear, in isolation, that Americans approve of the idea in concept" of higher taxes for the wealthy.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called the Buffet Rule bill "another proposal from Democrats that won't create a single job or lower the price at the pump by a penny, but may have just the opposite effect"