Posts Tagged ‘tax breaks’

Warren Buffett calls for fair—that is, higher—taxes on the super-rich

August 15, 2011

The battle in Congress over America’s budget problem is both practical and ideological. People on the left argue that the budget can never be brought under control without a blend of tax hikes on the rich and spending cuts. On the right tea-party-fueled passions oppose any tax increase on the grounds that the rich are already paying more than their fair share and, moreover, that raising their taxes will stifle job creation.

Into this battle rides Warren Buffett, the world’s third richest person with assets of $50 billion. In an op-ed in today’s New York Times, headlined “Stop Coddling the Super-Rich,” Buffett demolishes both arguments against higher taxes for the super-rich.

First he explains how under-taxed the wealthy are: his tax rate of 17.4 % of taxable income is the lowest of the twenty people in his office, including his secretary. And that’s not uncommon for the super-rich. His summary:

While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks.

And as far as the argument that higher taxes will slow down investment by the super-rich in new jobs, America’s most successful investor puts it this way:

People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off. And to those who argue that higher rates hurt job creation, I would note that a net of nearly 40 million jobs were added between 1980 and 2000. (more…)

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The President spoke unethically, even lied, at his news conference

July 3, 2011

President Obama came out swinging at his news conference on Wednesday. Opinion is divided as to whether or not it was good tactics to attack the Republicans and to compare their sense of responsibility unfavorably to 13-year old Malia and 10-year old Sasha. In my opinion it violated a fundamental rule of political ethics, the dictum of Reinhold Niebuhr:

“The temper of and integrity with which the political fight is waged is more important for the health of our society than the outcome of any issue or campaign.”

But beyond the temper of the fight, there’s no question that the President crossed another, simpler, ethical line: tell the truth.

PolitiFact.com gave him a “Pants on Fire” rating for claiming his regulatory review is unprecedented, when in fact it’s a faint copy of the 1993 review that was a major part of the effort to reinvent government. (Full disclosure: I personally guided the preparation of President Clinton’s executive order and led the effort to slash 16,000 pages from the Federal Register and change the way government interacted with business.)

I think PolitiFact was unfair to the President. He certainly spoke an untruth, but it was only “pants on fire” if he knew he was speaking untruthfully. My guess is he didn’t.

However, he really deserved—and still deserves—“pants on fire” for the way he’s constantly mis-characterizing his tax proposal. For example (more…)