published Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

Republicans call out Buffett for views on wealthy taxpayers

Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett attends the the 2011 Allen and Co. Sun Valley Conference, in Sun Valley, Idaho, in July.
Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett attends the the 2011 Allen and Co. Sun Valley Conference, in Sun Valley, Idaho, in July.
Photo by Associated Press.

By Kim Geiger, Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — Republicans blasted back at Warren Buffett after the billionaire investor argued in a newspaper opinion piece that the mega-rich in the U.S. are “coddled” by the tax code.

The country’s wealthiest citizens pay considerably less taxes, as a percentage of income, than the poor and middle class, Buffett said in an article published Monday in The New York Times.

“My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress,” Buffett wrote. “It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.”

Republicans responded with a series of tweets questioning Buffett’s sincerity.

“For tax raising advocates like Warren Buffett, I am sure Treasury would take a voluntary payment for deficit reduction,” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, wrote in a tweet.

“If Warren Buffet (sic) wants to pay more taxes and send more of his money to Washington, why doesn’t he just do it?” tweeted Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., who has led the push against tax increases to help reduce budget deficits.

This is not the first time that Buffett, a friend and donor to Obama, has used his personal tax bill — and those of his employees — to make the case that super-wealthy Americans are under-taxed. In 2007, Buffett raised the issue at a fundraiser for then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, arguing that secretaries pay higher tax rates than their millionaire bosses and offering to pay $1 million to anyone who could prove him wrong.

This time, Buffett’s words come as a bipartisan committee of 12 members of Congress sets out to trim the federal budget gap by $1.5 trillion over 10 years, with the growing national debt becoming a central issue as the 2012 presidential race heats up.

In a Monday interview with PBS’ Charlie Rose, Buffett said the op-ed was aimed at that group known as the “super committee.”

“If I could pick 12 readers for it, they’re the ones,” Buffett said.

Buffett rejected the claim that raising taxes to cut U.S. deficits will kill jobs, arguing that the country had higher taxes between 1980 and 2000 and “nearly 40 million jobs were added.”

“You know what’s happened since then: lower tax rates and far lower job creation.”

On Tuesday President Barack Obama took Buffett’s op-ed on the campaign trail, citing it in town halls as he traveled through Minnesota and Iowa. As Obama was touting the Buffett piece, conservatives set out to debunk it.

“Apart for (sic) misstating his tax burden, Buffett fails to call for significant reforms in Social Security and Medicare that could reduce federal spending, and he downplays the role of taxation plays in investment decisions,” wrote Mike Brownfield, the assistant director of strategic communications at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington.

“A billionaire calling for more taxes might make great political theater, but there’s more to the story than Buffett — and Obama — would have you believe.”

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(c) 2011, Tribune Co.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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ARCHIVE PHOTOS on MCT Direct (from MCT Photo Service, 202-383-6099): Warren Buffett

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XGSBoss said...

Way to COMPLETELY miss Buffett's point Cornyn and Cantor. But they had no choice but to throw in a strawman.

August 17, 2011 at 9:15 a.m.

Mr Buffett talks a good game, but in the end takes advantage of ever loophole and trick available to keep from paying more taxes. More do what I say not what I do BS from regressives.

August 17, 2011 at 9:32 a.m.
LadyJ said...

I'm amazed at how much lawmakers target social security as an area in which they can cut spending. Explain to me how it constitutes an "entitlement" when we all have historically paid 6.2% of our gross income (4.2% temporarily) into each time we are paid? It's not like it's free money they're handing out, they're giving people back their own money. Since they consider social security to be so broken, then they should stop taking deductions for it out of my salary and I put 6.2% of my gross income in a Roth IRA each biweekly pay period.

August 17, 2011 at 9:38 a.m.

Well said LadyJ. I just watched Michelle Bachman actually say out loud at a rally: "The rest of US shouldnt have our taxes raised because Buffett thinks its fair." That right there should let people know that her and people rich like her are the only ones crying about the idea. The lower taxes have not created jobs; its only made the business owners richer and they will do everything they can to keep it that way. Welcome to the United States of Oligarchy

August 17, 2011 at 10:32 a.m.
terrybham said...

The issue is fairness, plain and simple. The Republican party is going to protect the wealthy and as long as working Americans elect Republicans there will be tax inequity. In the final analysis, Americans get the government they deserve. It is just unfortunate that the rest of us have to suffer along with the uninformed and easily-led voters.

August 17, 2011 at 10:47 a.m.
dao1980 said...

YES! LadyJ, you are right on it with that one.

August 17, 2011 at 11:47 a.m.
timbo said...

Just write a check liberals.

August 19, 2011 at 5:30 p.m.
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