Warren Buffett, one of the wealthiest men in the world, urged the government to raise his taxes, saying he and his “mega-rich friends” have been “coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress."
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In a New York Times op-ed, the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway wrote Monday that “extraordinary tax breaks … and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species.” This is unwarranted, he argued: “I know well many of the mega-rich and, by and large, they are very decent people… Most wouldn’t mind being told to pay more in taxes as well, particularly when so many of their fellow citizens are truly suffering.”
After a heated partisan standoff during debt negotiations, a joint congressional committee is now charged with coming up with a plan by Thanksgiving to cut the nation's deficit by $1.5 trillion. With Americans doubting Congress’s ability to deal with the country’s fiscal problems, Buffett argued for “very substantial” action to prevent this doubt from “morphing into hopelessness.” Buffett proposed an immediate increase on taxes for the wealthy, as President Obama has supported; he suggested raising tax rates immediately on those making more than $1 million, including dividends and capital gains—and an additional increase in rate for those who make $10 million or more.
Buffett’s own income and payroll taxes last year amounted to nearly $7 million dollars. “That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income—and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office,” he said. Their tax burdens, he wrote, averaged 36 percent.