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Warren Buffett: The Rich Should Pay More Taxes

with 6 comments

From the world’s second richest man:

Warren Buffett, the renowned investor and the world’s second richest man, told Senate Democrats that wealthy Americans need to pay higher taxes, giving Democrats something to mull as they address healthcare reform and soaring federal deficits.

Senate Democrats met with Buffett for more than an hour over lunch Thursday, peppering him with questions about the economy, said lawmakers in attendance.

“He said rich people are not paying enough taxes,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.). “It was interesting to see someone who is such an aggressive capitalist, who believes so much in our capitalist system, saying we’ve got the scales way too heavily toward people who are very, very wealthy.”

Buffett told lawmakers that because of the cuts to the capital gains tax passed under former President George W. Bush, he pays taxes at a lower rate than some of his company’s employees.

Sen. McCaskill is spot on. The message is not new. The tax burden lies squarely at the feet of those who have the least. What’s fascinating about this is the messenger. It’s refreshing to hear this from a wealthy individual, because too often, those that have do everything in their power to have more. Their interests are placed before all others. I’m not necesserily saying it’s not their right, but I do think it’s wrong.

This is extremely relevant because of the ongoing debate. Many, including myself, gave President Barack Obama high praise for his health care speech this past Wednesday. He covered many areas and made strides to explain his plan and what it meant for all Americans. If there was an aspect of the speech to criticize, it was definitely the part about how to pay for this health care overhaul. Many are in agreement that it’s necessary. The question, though, is what it means for our deficit. This is a $1 trillion plan over ten years. Where is the money coming from? He was rather vague in that explanation.

That’s where the Bush Tax cuts come in. They need to be repealed. The super rich have gotten a free-ride in this country long enough. While two wars were being prosecuted, Bush foolishly signed into law his $1.3 trillion hook-up for the top 5% of the country. By the way, isn’t it interesting that the politicians who supported the tax cuts back then are now opposed to a slightly less expensive, and much more important health care reform. Funny, that.

Hopefully the Democrats take heed to Buffet’s suggestion. It would benefit the country.

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6 Responses

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  1. I agree with the tax sentiments expressed here. Dating back to the Reagan Revolution, our government has been unwilling to tell the American people what we need to hear: that government costs more than we are contributing to it, and is going ever deeper into debt. Carter left office with the federal government close to debt free (less than $1 trillion). By the time Bush 43 left office, we were $12 trillion in debt, and digging the hole a trillion dollars deeper each year. We wanted to believe that our government could give us all these goodies and we’d wouldn’t have to pay for it. Shame on us for being gullible, and shame on the Republicans and Democrats for cynically exploiting us.

    As for the healthcare debate, I think we may have missed a great historical moment. The challenge of stabilizing access to insurance is one thing, and that is being addressed. But they should have used this moment to tackle the larger, more pervasive problem: realigning the structures and incentives of the healthcare delivery system itself. If we could achieve cost levels comparable to the rest of the developed world, we could pay for all the 40+ million currently uninsured AND reduce spending at the same time. Bend the curve? Hell no… BREAK the curve.

    http://thecentersquare.wordpress.com/

    The Center Square

    September 11, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    • That’s a tight blog, TCS.

      Agreed. What’s doomed our economy is the foolish adoption of the economic policies championed by Reagan and advanced by subsequent presidents. Even Clinton, a president who was in office during a time of great prosperity, promoted and further implemented policies that are responsible for the deep trouble we’re in today.

      And I agree about the missed opportunity. Washington simply doesn’t have the stomach for that kind of massive reform,, though. Obama said it himself during the speech. He would rather fix what we have now than drastically reshape the system. The entrenched interests in Washington won’t let that happen any time soon.

      PJ

      September 11, 2009 at 6:43 pm

  2. Wow that’s crazy one of the wealthiest men in the world would say that. But that’s the ironic world we live in isn’t it. Props to you Mr. Buffet and all this time I thought you were just a rich, greedy old dude. Now I see you’re a rich, greedy, smart old dude. Stamp of approval for you kid.

    Drizzles

    September 11, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    • Yeah, he definitely gets the stamp. I was shocked when he mentioned that he pays more in taxes than his employees. Has a wealthy person has ever complained about not paying enough taxes?

      PJ

      September 11, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    • You do realize that most of his money is in assets and wouldnt be taxed regardless? Bill Gates has made similar statements, and is in a similar position.

      Why don’t we stop the class warfare simplify the tax system. What Mr. Buffett fails to address are the tax breaks and 1000’s of pages in the tax code that allows him to pay those lower rate. Also if he is happy to pay more, there is not a single law in the tax code the prohibits him from paying more if he wishes.

      The income tax is progressive, if you make more you pay more and at a higher rate. The only way he’d be paying a lower rate is by using all those loopholes he fails to address.

      I feel I must mention a few facts before the flaming begins. I have a high level of respect for Mr. Buffett and Mr. Gates for that matter. I am also no where close to being rich, so this doesnt directly affect me other than the fact that removing the bush tax cuts will do away witht he 10% bracket and move the 15% to its place, the 25% to the 15%’s place, etc. I suggest to anyone who thinks that rolling back the tax cuts is a good idea they should look at the current tax rates and do the math themselves based on their last return. Also if you dont pay taxes at all you have no skin in the game (so to speak) and your opinion is less important IMHO.

      Brian

      October 5, 2009 at 12:04 pm

  3. @ PJ: Back at ya, and thanks.

    http://thecentersquare.wordpress.com/

    The Center Square

    September 11, 2009 at 9:13 pm


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