Monday, August 15, 2011

Mega-rich coddled long enough, says one of them

Warren Buffett, with $50 billion, is the world's third richest man according to Forbes. Monday, he urged U.S. lawmakers to raise taxes on wealthy Americans, saying the move would not reduce investments or cost jobs.

In Stop Coddling the Super-Richa New York Times Op-Ed, Buffett writes:
OUR leaders have asked for “shared sacrifice.” But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched.

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. . .

If you make money with money, as some of my super-rich friends do, your percentage may be a bit lower than mine [17.4%]. But if you earn money from a job, your percentage will surely exceed mine — most likely by a lot.

. . . I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone — not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 — shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain. [emphasis added]  People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off.

. . . I would leave rates for 99.7 percent of taxpayers unchanged and continue the current 2-percentage-point reduction in the employee contribution to the payroll tax. This cut helps the poor and the middle class, who need every break they can get.

But for those making more than $1 million — there were 236,883 such households in 2009 — I would raise rates immediately on taxable income in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital gains. And for those who make $10 million or more — there were 8,274 in 2009 — I would suggest an additional increase in rate.

My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.
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