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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9211
JPY
USD
119.18
GBP
USD
0.6722
CAD
USD
1.2509
INR
USD
62.518

Rates may not be current.