Warren Buffett: stop coddling the super-rich

“My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress,” said Warren Buffett, one of the world’s three richest people, in an op-ed he wrote for the New York Times. Buffett continued, “It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice,” adding that he believes higher taxes for the rich will not discourage investment.

“I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone – not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 – shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain,” he said.

“People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off.”

It’s worth noting that according to Buffett, his federal tax bill last year was $6,938,744, an amount that according to Buffett totaled only 17.4 percent of his taxable income. “That’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent,” Buffett said.

Stop coddling the super-rich? Sounds like a good idea to me.


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14 thoughts on “Warren Buffett: stop coddling the super-rich

  1. I find it interesting that a man who can buy and sell a good chunk of the industrialized world is preaching to others that they are “coddled.” Would he be saying the same thing if he only made $500,000 a year? I highly doubt it. Lets face it, he could pay a 75 percent tax rate and still live more comfortably than the vast majority of Americans.

    Warren, there is NOTHING stopping you from writing a check to the U.S. treasury because you are “coddled” and feel you haven’t paid your fair share. I say start with $5 billion…made out to the U.S. treasury. I’m sure you can use Google to find the address.

    1. In general, I’ve been a fan of Buffett for a long time. Not in the worship “oracle of Omaha” sense, but he’s certainly sharp and I’ve always found him entertaining.

      That said, I find the public statements & things like this I bit obnoxious. If he really wants to see changes to public policy and the tax code, he should quit wasting his time with PR stunts and pick up the damn phone. Is there a politician on the planet who wouldn’t take his call? He’s a smart guy – he knows this – knows that a conversation with a handful of lawmakers would have considerably more effect on actually changing things than all the letters to the NY Times in the world. Assuming he knows this, it makes me question whether he really wants things changed.

      The fact of the matter is, it has nothing to do with tax rates, it’s all the carefully crafted deductions, exemptions and credits. I could not agree more, that the tax code should be literally re-started from scratch. It should not be a tool to re-distribute wealth, pick winners and losers, rewarding industries, companies and even individuals who are friends of the lawmakers. 100% agree that taxes should be about shared sacrifice – it should be politically neutral and not encourage or discourage behavior.

      But hearing the complains from Buffett is jut like listening to Mark McGuire complain about MLB allowing steroids to ruin the game of baseball. Mr. Buffet – how about you start by instructing your own tax advisers to not take advantage of every loophole for yourself and your companies?

      1. So you don’t think elites who have the ears of lawmakers should have out-sized influence on tax policy.

        And you think Warren Buffett should stop taking his case to the public and just use his out-sized influence on lawmakers to get what he wants re: tax policy.

        1. No, Buffet should, if he actually BELIEVED the crap that he is spewing, instruct every accountant, every bookkeeper, every tax lawyer to NOT take every deduction…and that goes for every company that he has a majority stake.

          He’s USING the tax code to his advantage, but tells us “we shouldn’t do it?”

          Again, he can write out his check any time he wants.

          And yes, JCG, I see you are flush with exceptional comments. Would you prefer $50,000 in my example? You are a tool.

        2. What exactly are you arguing?

          Buffett’s “out-sized” influence isn’t about his net worth – it has been earned from being one of the most successful investors & money managers over the last 40 years. If he gave every penny away and was worth nothing yesterday, legislators would and should give his ideas consideration.

    2. Mark, you are missing the message first off he is defending the middle class, he said anyone making over a million a year also why in the world should anyone pay a different percentage of tax. I pay close to 40% and only make around $80,000 a year,so its ok for someone making a billion a year to pay 17%. Jobs have taken a huge hit with unemployment high and taxes are lower than ever, if you believe that crap about lowering taxes to create jobs, you are living in wonderland

  2. I really wish Warren Buffet would start jumping into politics too, I honestly would vote for him – unlike a ton of the rich who exist now days, he actually made his own money and is teaching his kids to do the same way.

    That being said: Warren Buffet does already give away quite a lot of money – to the tune of billions. He (personally, at least) is not going to risk much by being taxed more. Obviously not all rich people are like this since they have become stingy and actually don’t know how to function in everyday society. But Warren Buffet at least does put his money where his mouth is.

    I remember last year, Washington State? There was an initiative sponsored by Bill Gates Senior calling for an income tax on the top one percent and people voted against it because they were driven by pure fear due to conservative propaganda. It killed me that the conservatives once again made it out like they were going to levy an income tax on EVERYONE and not just their biggest donators. The slippery slope argument wasn’t rational and it was based purely on fear. This is a big deal because they lowered taxes for the rich while keeping the spending at the same level and same with the regulation. This means they actually raised the burden in the state.

    As long as conservative propaganda exists stirring fear and irrational behavior, our country is not going to get better. They’ll just demonize these people for being leftist scum bags, making them a meme of sorts along the lines of George Soros – nevermind Soros’s role was crucial in the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and is a very intelligent man in general who was self made.

    … Actually, I think that is what differs between certain billionares and others: I notice most of the billionaires who made their own money, are confident enough to be taxed partially because they know how to get it back if they needed to. The ones who cling on crying probably cannot imagine a life without money because they really don’t know how to make it. I had an acquaintance who later became my friend, who was at one point rich. They were assholes for ages, until they got hit hard by the recession. least to say being far removed from the concerns and struggles of the rest must be the best part of being rich.

      1. I’m not sure honestly, the thing about Warren Buffet is I do think he does care for people and others a lot, otherwise he wouldn’t be trying to help people do good business decisions, savings, and so on but he really doesn’t know how to do it any other way since he’s that far away from most people in society.

        As someone who has worked with rich, I’m not going to say they’re evil people by any means. However, they are detached from society – willfully clueless is a better term for them. It’s not callousness so much as being so comfortable in your lot in life that you don’t want to think about anything else. I’m pretty convinced that hardly any truly privileged people will ever see things through any other lens unless they’re forced to live it – and not like some stupid documentaries do where people switch lifestyles temporarily.

        They need to know how truly inescapable and self-feeding the cycle is, and you can’t get that through any other way but by being in its shoes and in that horrible position of where you constantly look for a job but you’re declined either because you’re over qualified, or the fact they think you will jump to a different job when you have a chance, where they hire you part time but make you work full time but make it so it’s just an hour shorter than a full time job just so they don’t have to pay you as much.

        It’s the apparent impossibility of crawling out of it that rich people don’t get- when you’re rich, all you think is “But they could…” and “Why aren’t they…” when faced with poverty and discrimination. I won’t even get into the whole view point that most people who are rich or at least think they’re rich are social idiots. No one but other rich people like rich people, and even they secretly hate each other half the time because they’re trying to outdo each other in some shape or form.

        As for Tea Party members? They’re always the wannabes. They believe in the American Dream, that has been pounded into their head but has died ever since Neoliberalism in this country has been introduced. In a way are eternal optimists even if they are in horrible shape now, who seem to hope that if they shout enough about trickle-down and ‘making your own way,’ it’ll actually start working.

  3. @Locke, I’m not arguing a single thing. I wrote 2 sentences. Each of those sentences summarized a different portion of what you argued. And I’m trying to wrap my feeble mind around your glaring contradiction.

  4. Gotta love that Mark. He just loves rich people unless they say something he doesn’t like—then he has a hissy fit.

    1. Jan:

      I fail to see where I “love” rich people. I never said that, nor did I infer that.

      What I am trying to point out, without the need for your babble, is the incredible double-standard Mr. Buffett is showing.

      He is fully capable of paying more in taxes, and he is fully capable of giving his money away to the U.S. government’s coffers, but he CHOOSES not to…he is taking advantage of the tax laws just like every other person WHO PAYS TAXES is doing.

      He’s complaining that it’s unfair, but doing it anyway. That’s what my problem is…and that’s not a hissy fit except for someone who can’t stay on point with a comment thread.

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