Warren Buffett, is the 3rd Richest person in the world (Per the 2010 Forbes 400). His net worth in that survey was $47 billion dollars. There is no questioning his business acumen, but he seems to have jumped the shark in his recent editorial in the NY Times. In this editorial he talked (his comments are italicized) about the super rich, noting:
“Since 1992, the I.R.S. has compiled data from the returns of the 400 Americans reporting the largest income. In 1992, the top 400 had aggregate taxable income of $16.9 billion and paid federal taxes of 29.2 percent on that sum. In 2008, the aggregate income of the highest 400 had soared to $90.9 billion — a staggering $227.4 million on average — but the rate paid had fallen to 21.5 percent.”
Buffett’s solution then makes giant leap to raise taxes for those making more than $1 million immediately (so much for the “Super Rich.”) He goes on to say that those who make $10 million or more should have an additional increase in their tax rate, saying that “It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.”
I’m sure that Buffett knows that the Top 1% of Taxpayers pay 38% of Federal Income Taxes already. And, since he is expanding his definition of “Rich” to include those who make more than $1 million, he must know that the top 5% of Taxpayers already pay 59% of income taxes. Apparently that’s not enough to qualify as a “shared sacrifice.” This coming from a man who will never worry about his future, or his kids future. I’m sure that he takes advantage of every part of the tax code to lower his tax bill. Many have observed that he could volunteer to donate to the U.S. Treasury to reduce the deficit. As far as I know he has not done that. Note that Obama further redefines “Rich” to be those who make more that $250,000 per year.
If the U.S. was a business, I doubt that Buffett would invest in the business, and yet he seems to be loaning his reputation to help Obama get his way on the deficit reduction. After Standard & Poor’s downgraded the U.S., Buffett said “In Omaha, the U.S. is still AAA. In fact, if there was a quadruple A rating, I’d give the U.S. that.” After thinking about why he would do this, I decided to look at his political contributions. The contributions are telling. He made 41 political contributions from 1998 to 2011. Two contributions went to a “RINO,” and two more went to a Republican, but I think that last one was a sentimental donation as it went to former Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne. The rest of the contributions were to an all star list of Liberals.
The list suggests that he is looking to generate increases in taxes to save his favorite politicians from the results of their own policies. Here is a list of some of the Liberals that Buffett has supported with contributions: Hillary Clinton, Bob Kerry, Ben Nelson, Chris Dodd, Barack Obama, Russ Feingold, John Kerry, Arlen Specter, Daniel Moynihan, Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, John Dingell, Bill Bradley, and Chuck Schumer.
As a successful businessman, I think it’s time for Buffett to write an new editorial …… “How to live within your means.” I’m sure the aspiring millionaires and billionaires would be grateful for Buffett not putting a road block in front of their own success. While that would be at odds with his political views, in the long run, it would make America a more business friendly country, which would raise all boats. That would require some real “Hope and Change.”