More from Buffet

I generally trust people a bit more when they are advocating something that will cost them money, because I can infer that they are making an argument about what they think is right. Most strong advocates of the dividend tax cut are wealthy and stand to disproportionately benefit (here’s a nice example using the Bush cabinet). Similarly, it makes sense for the non-wealthy to oppose it because the lost revenue will, either now or in the future, likely come out of their pockets when general tax rates and fees are raised. What’s more interesing is when the wealthy oppose the dividend tax cut (or previously, the estate tax elimination). So it’s imporant when a wealthy person, who is also one of the most successful businessmen in the past 30 years (paralleled only by Gates and Welch), pipes up against the cut. This from CNN:

Through his 31 percent ownership of [Berkshire Hathaway], Buffett said he would receive an additional $310 million in income that would reduce his tax rate from about 30 percent to 3 percent, while his office secretary would still have a tax rate of about 30 percent.

“The 3 percent overall federal tax rate I would pay — if a Berkshire dividend were to be tax free — seems a bit light,” Buffett wrote.

Instead of the Senate’s tax cut plan, Buffett proposed that it provide tax reductions to those who need and will spend the money in the form of a Social Security tax “holiday” or a tax rebate to lower-income people.


P.S. NEW AB contest: who will be the first Righty to say, “if Buffet wants to pay more in taxes, he’s free to give it to the government, just don’t make me do it too”. As wealthy as Buffet is, acting alone, he couldn’t make more than a small dent in the budget deficit.

UPDATE: We have a winner: Matt Stoller identifies Grover Norquist on 5/5/03 as saying,

“If the president’s tax relief plan really is unjust, then Mr. Buffett should be ready and willing to sign a Pledge to his shareholders at Berkshire Hathaway and to every American he harangues that he won’t accept that relief once it becomes law”.

Matt S. blogged about this way back on 5/10/03, but if I get more quotes, I’ll add them to the list…Stephen Moore? Grover also made this stupid statement, “Buffett is so fabulously wealthy he doesn’t remember that half of Americans are stockholders and all will benefit from the president’s plan”–actually, it’s not really stupid, but rather intentionally disingenous. Over half of Americans do have stock, but the vast majority of those hold their stock in 401k’s, Roths, and Traditional IRAs, and so get nothing from the dividend tax cut.