News / Economy

Man Behind Obama’s 'Buffett Rule' Calls For Tax Fairness

Warren Buffett (file photo)
Warren Buffett (file photo)
Kent Klein

One of the most controversial pieces of President Barack Obama’s economic plan is named for one of the richest men in the world.  The president calls his proposal to raise taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations “The Buffett Rule.”  Some Republicans are calling it class warfare.   

Warren Buffett says he paid almost $7 million in taxes last year.  He says that is not enough.

“I think people at the high end, people like myself, should be paying a lot more in taxes," said Buffett.

The billionaire investor wrote an opinion article in the New York Times in August, claiming that all 20 employees in his office pay a higher percentage of their incomes in taxes than he does.

Buffett suggested increasing taxes on millionaires and billionaires.  He wrote, “My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress.  It is time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.”

President Obama is incorporating Buffett’s proposal into his plan to reduce the federal deficit.  
“Middle-class families should not pay higher taxes than millionaires and billionaires," said President Obama. "That is pretty straightforward.  It is hard to argue against that.  Warren Buffett’s secretary should not pay a higher tax rate than Warren Buffett.”

The president announced his deficit-cutting plan on Monday, and said it would include a provision he called the “Buffett Rule.”

The rule states that “No household making over $1 million annually should pay a smaller share of its income in taxes than middle-class families pay.”  Administration officials have not given details on how the plan would be put into effect.

Some reports have shown that most of the richest Americans already pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes than lower- or middle-income taxpayers.

Meanwhile, some Republicans call the proposal class warfare. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says it would stifle job creation.

“If he is feeling guilty about it, I think he should send in a check," said McConnell. "But we do not want to stagnate this economy by raising taxes.”

Obama said Thursday the purpose of his plan is basic fairness.

“If asking a billionaire to pay their fair share of taxes, to pay the same tax rate as a plumber or a teacher, is class warfare, then, you know what?  I am a warrior for the middle class," he said. "I am happy to fight for the middle class.  I am happy to fight for working people.”

Public opinion polls show that most Americans agree with Warren Buffett that the richest citizens should pay more in taxes.

Buffett is ranked as the third-wealthiest person in the world, with $39 billion.  He has been investing for 70 years, since he was 11-years-old.  His success has earned him the nickname “The Oracle of Omaha.”

Buffett endorsed and contributed money to Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008, and he is scheduled to host a fundraising event for the president in October.  Tickets will cost $35,000 each.

The 81-year-old chairman of the conglomerate holding company Berkshire Hathaway has committed to gradually give all of his company stock to philanthropic foundations.  He said more than 99 percent of his wealth will go to philanthropy during his lifetime or at death.

“My wife and I, when we were in our twenties, decided that whatever we had that we did not need should go to somebody that did need it," he said. "We had that planned for years, and lately we have taken up with this Giving Pledge to try and encourage others to feel the same way.”

The Giving Pledge was started by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda.  They are asking hundreds of the richest Americans to pledge at least 50 percent of their wealth to charity.

President Obama praised Buffett’s generosity while awarding him the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in February.

“And yet for all the money he has earned, you do not see Warren Buffett wearing fancy suits or driving fancy cars," said Obama. "Instead, you see him devoting the vast majority of his wealth to those around the world who are suffering or sick or in need of help.  And he uses his stature as a leader to press others of great means to do the same.”

Buffett is known for his relatively modest lifestyle.  He does not live in the financial and media center of New York, but in his less glamorous home town, the central U.S. city of Omaha, Nebraska.

When awarding Buffett the Medal of Freedom, the president joked about his frugal living.

“I should point out he is so thrifty, I had to give him a White House tie the last time that he came here to visit," he said. "His was looking a little shredded.  So then, when Bill Gates came, he wanted one too.”  

Now President Obama is hoping that Warren Buffett’s prestige and reputation as a business leader and philanthropist will help build support for the administration’s economic plan.

You May Like

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8143
JPY
USD
119.23
GBP
USD
0.6390
CAD
USD
1.1596
INR
USD
63.304

Rates may not be current.