Entries in Buffett Rule (7)


Warren Buffett Is No ‘Card-Carrying Democrat’

Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Billionaire Warren Buffett may be the poster child for President Obama’s tax plan, but the investment tycoon insists he is not a “card-carrying Democrat.”

“I support certain Republicans,” Buffet told members of Washington, D.C.’s Economic Club Tuesday night. “Actually this year I gave money to a Republican congressman.”

While Buffett didn’t name the recipient of his rare cross-party donation, Federal Election Commission data shows that Virginia Rep. Scott Rigell was the lucky beneficiary.

Buffett gave Rigell the maximum legal campaign donation of $2,500, although that’s substantially less than the $70,000 he has given to help re-elect President Obama over the past two years.

Buffett, who was in Washington for his 65th high school reunion, joked that having a tax named after him was not his first choice for a namesake.

President Obama dubbed his plan to institute a minimum 30 percent tax rate on millionaires the “Buffett Rule” after the billionaire lamented that his secretary paid a higher tax rate than he does.

“I couldn’t get a disease named after me so I settled for a tax,” Buffett joked.

While Buffett has long supported increasing the current income tax rate for the wealthy, he said Tuesday that historically speaking, “our country works” despite the ever-fluctuating tax rates.

“I’ve operated under all kinds of tax rates including 39.6 percent on capital gains and the country has grown under all these circumstances,” Buffett said.

But with the national debt topping $15 trillion, Buffett said “somebody has to step up” and set up a plan to raise at least $300 billion more in taxes each year and bring spending down to about 20 percent of GDP.

“Just talking about reform won’t solve anything on either the expenditures side or the revenue side,” Buffett said. “I mean you’ve got to get specific about it.”

Despite the growing national debt, the looming tax fight on Capitol Hill and the still struggling economic recovery, Buffet said he was optimistic about the American economy.  After all, Buffet noted, GDP per capita is six times higher than when he was born in 1930.

“It’s essential,” Buffett said of his optimism. “We’re not smarter than the people in 1930, we don’t worker harder than the people in 1930, we just have a system that works and has been working since 1776 and will keep working.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama’s Secretary Paid Higher Tax Rate Than He Did

Ryan McVay/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama on Friday released his 2011 federal income tax, with he and his wife reporting an adjusted gross income of $789,674. The Obamas paid $162,074 in total tax – an effective federal income tax rate of 20.5 percent. The Obamas also reported donating approximately 22 percent of their income to charity — $172,130.

President Obama has been making a big political push for the “Buffett Rule,” which would require millionaires to pay a minimum of 30 percent of their income in taxes. To illustrate the point, the president has pointed out that billionaire investor Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than does his secretary.

President Obama’s secretary, Anita Decker Breckenridge, makes $95,000 a year. White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage tells ABC News that Breckenridge “pays a slightly higher rate this year on her substantially lower income, which is exactly why we need to reform our tax code and ask the wealthiest to pay their fair share.”

It should be noted that president would not be impacted by the Buffett Rule, though he would see his taxes go up if the so-called Bush tax cuts on higher income wage-earners were allowed to expire, as the president says he wants.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


'Buffett Rule' Could Be 'Reagan Rule,' Obama Says

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama invoked Ronald Reagan on Wednesday as he pitched his proposed “Buffett Rule” for the second day in a row, arguing that the Republican icon would have supported his plan to require the wealthiest Americans to pay at least the same tax rate as the middle class.

“I’m not the first president to call for this idea that everybody's got to do their fair share,” the president said at a White House event. “If it will help convince folks in Congress to make the right choice, we could call it the Reagan rule instead of the Buffett rule.”

The president quoted a speech in which his predecessor said it was “crazy” that loopholes allowed millionaires to pay a lower tax rate than bus drivers.

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“That wild-eyed socialist, tax-hiking class warrior was Ronald Reagan.  He thought that in America the wealthiest should pay their fair share, and he said so,” Obama said. “I know that position might disqualify him from the Republican primaries these days but what Ronald Reagan was calling for then is the same thing that we're calling for now, a return to basic fairness and responsibility, everybody doing their part.”

The president made clear his call to raise taxes on millionaires is not about redistributing wealth, saying instead that it’s a means to boost growth. “This is not just about fairness,” he said. “This is also about being able to make the investments we need to succeed, and it's about we as a country being willing to pay for those investments and closing our deficits.”

The rule, which is unlikely to pass Congress, would require those earning over a million dollars a year to pay a minimum effective tax rate of 30 percent on their income. The proposal is named for billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.

“Most Americans agree with me.  So do most millionaires,” the president said, flanked by millionaires and their assistants who support the measure. “We just need some of the Republican politicians here in Washington to get on board with where the country is.”

Republicans have sharply criticized the measure, noting it would raise only $47 billion.

“There are others who are saying, well, this is just a gimmick… just taxing millionaires and billionaires, just imposing the Buffett rule won't do enough to close the deficit,” the president said.  “Well, I agree.  That's not all we have to do to close the deficit.  But the notion that it doesn't solve the entire problem doesn't mean that we shouldn't do it at all.  There are enough excuses for inaction in Washington.  We certainly don't need more excuses.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


President Obama Says Jesus, Islam Supports the 'Buffett Rule'

Chris Kleponis/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- At the annual prayer breakfast Thursday, President Obama suggested that his proposed tax increases on the wealthy are in accordance with the teachings of Jesus Christ.

“In a time when many folks are struggling and at a time when we have enormous deficits, it’s hard for me to ask seniors on a fixed income or young people with student loans or middle-class families who can barely pay the bills to shoulder the burden alone,” he said. “And I think to myself, if I’m willing to give something up as somebody who’s been extraordinarily blessed and give up some of the tax breaks that I enjoy, I actually think that’s going to make economic sense.”

The president continued: “But for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus’ teaching that, from to whom much is given, much shall be required.”

He added that the principle also, “mirrors the Islamic belief that though who’ve been blessed have an obligation to use those blessings to help others; or the Jewish doctrine of moderation and consideration for others.”

Starting with his State of the Union address, President Obama has been making tax increases on wealthier Americans a major part of his policy and reelection campaign. He and his team cite the so-called “Buffett Rule” -- a principle named after billionaire investor Warren Buffett -- as a centerpiece of this policy push. The Buffett Rule would require that "millionaires and billionaires" pay at least 30% of their income in taxes, even if their income comes from investments which are currently taxed at a lower rate.

On Capitol Hill, members of the president’s party have introduced legislation that would raise taxes on people making more than $1 million per year.

The issue of government support for the poor has been a hot topic on the campaign trail lately. When GOP front-runner Mitt Romney said Wednesday that his campaign was focused on the middle class, and not on the “very poor”, for whom there is a social safety net in place, it was seized by Democrats and pundits eager to paint the Republican frontrunner as an out-of-touch, heartless robber baron with no concern for the poor.

Romney clarified his statement a moment later, but in the 24/7 nature of news, the damage from the statement was done.

The annual prayer breakfast, held at the Washington Hilton, began in 1953.

President Obama also mentioned how the White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives had partnered with Catholic Charities to help the poor -- but he obviously made no mention of how leaders of the Catholic Church are incensed about the recent Obama administration rule requiring every health insurance program to include contraception. Catholic dogma opposes many forms of birth control and considers some of them -- including birth controls pills -- the taking of human life.

The rule sent priests all over the country to their pulpits last Sunday to blast the Obama policy.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Despite Budget Crisis, Bill Gates Pushes Continuing Foreign Aid

Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Despite the economic crisis rippling around the world, Microsoft co-founder and chairman Bill Gates is pushing countries to continue foreign aid efforts to poor and developing nations, saying that every dollar of aid "makes a huge difference."

Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, traveled to Capitol Hill last week to make his case to members of Congress, who are grappling with major budget cuts while debating greater investments to spur job creation.

"They do have a tough constraint," Gates told This Week anchor Christiane Amanpour after his meetings in Washington. "And so the question of should these monies that help the poorest, that enhance national security, should they be cut more than other things? Should they be cut equally? Or should they be preserved?"

"I'm reminding them that every dollar makes a huge difference," Gates added.

Gates will present a plan at the G-20 Summit next week in France, calling on the wealthiest countries to continue their aid efforts, despite austerity measures being taken around the world.

"If we really look at how the world's improved in the past few decades, it's very impressive how we've reduced poverty, reduced malnutrition, reduced the under-five death rate," Gates said.

Gates said that despite general opposition to foreign aid, Americans have remained "very generous" on efforts to supply AIDS drugs and malaria bed nets to out-risk nations overseas.

"They're very excited that the U.S. has been the leader in both of those areas," Gates said. "And they're pretty surprised when they find out that it's less than one percent of the federal budget going to aid very broadly, where these high-impact health programs are just a portion of that."

Gates said current foreign aid promises are at risk as focus turns to budget cuts and making greater investments and "nation-building" at home.

Gates did not commit support to President Obama's proposed "Buffett Rule," named after billionaire investor and Gates’ friend Warren Buffett, which would raise taxes on the wealthiest one percent.

He did say he supports the principle of raising taxes on the wealthy, even if it is not enough to solve deficit problems.

"I'm not an expert on how we should do taxes. Clearly, you can't raise the taxes we need just by going after that one percent," Gates said. "Yes, I'm generally in favor of the idea that the rich should pay somewhat more. But to really deal with the deficit gap we're talking about, that alone just numerically is not going to be enough."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Buffett Says ‘Buffett Rule’ Should Apply Only to ‘Ultra-Rich’

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(NEW YORK) -- Billionaire investment tycoon Warren Buffett, who has become the unwitting mascot of President Obama’s jobs plan, is less than thrilled with one of the plan’s main provisions: the millionaires’ tax, or as it’s come to be known, the “Buffett Rule.”

In an interview with Bloomberg Television on Friday, Buffett said he did not support the president’s plan to increase taxes on people who earn more than $1 million per year.

“It isn’t [my idea] to have the rich pay more taxes. It’s to have the ultra-rich pay more,” he said, according to The Hill. “What I’m talking about would probably apply to 50,000 people in the country.”

Later on CNBC, Buffett said if it were up to him, people earning $50 million would not see any tax increases, only people with “very high incomes that are taxed very low.” Buffett did not put on a number on what a “very high income” would be.

The Buffett Rule, as President Obama has taken to calling it, is a provision in Obama’s American Jobs Act that would increase the tax rate for millionaires to ensure that high income earners do not pay a lower tax rate than middle-or low-income earners. Obama dubbed this provision the Buffett Rule after the billionaire investor said there should be “shared sacrifice” in reducing the deficit.

In a New York Times op-ed in August, Buffett complained that he and his “mega-rich” friends have been “coddled” by a “billionaire-friendly Congress” because he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.

The day after Buffett’s piece ran in the Sunday paper, Obama cited it as proof that a “balanced” approach was necessary in deficit reduction. Less than a month later, Obama introduced his American Jobs Act, which included the so-called Buffett Rule.

Buffett said Friday he has not “looked at all the details” of the president’s jobs act, which he called a “stimulus plan,” but said he would probably not support the entire bill.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Warren Buffett Rule: Class Warfare or Tax Fairness?

Pixland/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- In proposing the "Buffett Rule," President Obama is invoking a name synonymous with success to raise taxes for the wealthy in what political analysts are saying will be a tough sell to Congress.

The chairman and chief executive of investment company Berkshire Hathaway is widely known to have friends on both sides of the aisle, including former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulsen and Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke -- both Republicans.  Of course, he is known for being a billionaire businessman who lives rather modestly in Omaha, Nebraska.

In opposition to the Buffett Rule, Republicans have attacked the president's proposed tax hikes, crying "class warfare."

"Class warfare will simply divide this country more.  It will attack job creators, divide people and it doesn't grow the economy," Rep. Paul Ryan said on FOX News Sunday.  "Class warfare may make for really good politics, but it makes for rotten economics."

Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize winner in economics and professor at Columbia University, said he disagrees.

"It's not class warfare to ask everyone in the country to pay their fair share.  To say the wealthy have taken advantage of their political position and have not paid their share of taxes is not class warfare.  It's a statement of fact," Stiglitz told ABC News.  "The fact is they are paying lower taxes and most Americans think this is unjust and unfair.  Tax loopholes don't just appear out of thin air.  They are the result of big political investments that rich people have particularly made to get tax preferences."

In an ABC/Washington Post poll in July, 72 percent of those surveyed supported raising taxes on people with incomes of more than $250,000 a year to help reduce the national debt, while 55 percent supported it strongly.  That was the most popular of nine different debt-reduction approaches tested and the only one to win majority "strong" support.  The next closest was raising the amount of income taxable for Social Security purposes.

Stiglitz said there is "no justification" why hedge funds should be taxed at a lower rate than workers.  He said it is possible that raising taxes by 0.5 percent, particularly with millionaires, could raise gross domestic product (GDP) by 1 to 1.5 percentage points.

"This could make a significant contribution to the country, especially if we spend it well," he said.  "So from an economic point of view, the current tax system is a distortion and this is a partial fix for that distortion."

Buffett and billionaire George Soros have also said if the wealthy make certain sacrifices, it could be a sign of national solidarity.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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