Saturday, October 1, 2011

Buffett on Double Dip, The Buffett Rule, and Why He Doesn't Voluntarily Pay More in Taxes

In this interview with Bloomberg, Warren Buffett claims we are in a recovery and not heading into a double-dip recession based on the the performance of the 70+ companies that make up Berkshire Hathaway (good news for Berkshire stock holders). The discussion then turns to his support of higher taxes on himself and some of those in his elite friends in the "super-rich" club.

At about 4:30 in the video, the Betty Liu asks Buffett the ultimate question: If he wants the rich (including himself) to pay more in taxes, why doesn't he simply voluntarily write a check to the government for the extra millions that he thinks would be "fair" for him to pay? Buffett fumbles around unable to give a clear answer. The reporter presses him again and asks "Warren, since you're a large proponent of higher taxes, why not write a check to the government for several billion dollars just to underscore a point?" Buffett then fumbles some more and claims that he doesn't want to act alone, but would join a group of other "ultra-rich" taxpayers who are supposedly "under-taxed" and they would all pay higher taxes as a group. Not exactly what I would call acting on your convictions or leading by example.

Why should Buffett wait for anyone else to act instead of being the first to voluntarily pay higher taxes and set an example for the skinflints in "ultra-rich" club? Isn't Buffett's position kind of like saying: I think it's a good idea to donate blood, but I won't do it unless: a) I'm forced to by the government, or b) a bunch of my friends and I hold hands and we all do it together?

HT: Carpe Diem


  1. With regard to recession: I think Mr. Buffet is in a position to monitor industries from a position that few people can. I am actually disappointed in his answer for not voluntarily writing a check to the government due to his stance on taxes. Although he does not strike me as disingenuous in his convictions, it is unclear why he feels that acting alone would not be a significant gesture, given his position, wealth, and influence.

  2. One thing to note is that Buffett's idea of "The Buffett Tax" differs greatly from Obama's proposal.

    I think Buffett renders his own words empty by not backing them up with action...... this kind of thinking that I'll only do it if either the government makes me do it or all my billionaire friends agree to do is kind of cowardly, and not what I'd call leading by example.

  3. Can you actually write a check to the government? Would he get to pick which government agency he gets to allocate his donation?

    I wonder if people got to choose a % of their taxes to go to certain government agencies, where would it go? Where would you put your money.

  4. You can make a donation anytime to the Government at (not far from where I am sitting right now):

    Gifts to the United States
    U.S. Department of the Treasury
    Credit Accounting Branch
    3700 East-West Highway, Room 622D
    Hyattsville, MD 20782

  5. Buffet should shut up about taxes and speak up about how poor a job Obama is doing running the government.

  6. Its a funny thing when warren buffett speaks people listen. I don't favor consistory taxes on the rich but this notion of trickle down economics is somehow going to benifit the vast majority of the population is a myth perpetuated by the right wing financial news media. The extreme concentration of income and wealth in the hands of a few is always dangerous for everyone in the end.