Entries in Warren Buffett (22)


Warren Buffett: ‘Tough to Watch’ Washington Gridlock

Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- During an interview on ABC’s This Week Sunday morning, Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO Warren Buffett bemoaned the political gridlock in Washington, telling chief business and economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis that it is “tough to watch.”

“It’s tough to watch what happens in Washington. It’s gotten more and more partisan, but now so many elections are determined by the primaries and not the November elections, that it does tend to push both sides to the extremes and to cause them to dig in and feel that they can’t bend from positions ’cause they’ll get primaried.”

Buffett, an iconic investor, also weighed in on the economy, saying it has improved since the recession of 2008, but made no predictions about where the stock market is headed.

“I think to some extent it takes time. We’ve had a lot of fiscal stimulus. We’ve had an extraordinary amount of monetary stimulus. And I think those were the right things to be doing, considering the incredible situation that existed in 2008. I generally approve of what the latter stages of it hit, what the Bush administration did. I approve of what the Obama administration has done. Nothing is perfect, but we had some huge problems in 2008, and our country is doing reasonably well coming out of that. It’s a lot slower than people would like, but it was a lot bigger problem than any of us had ever seen,” he said.

 “I don’t know the answer to what the market will do next week or next month or next year. But the economy generally has gotten better over the last four years. The stock market got very depressed. I wrote about it in late 2008, and said the stocks are very cheap. They’re not as cheap now. They don’t look overpriced. They certainly look more attractive than fixed income investments to me. But I have no idea what the stock market will do next week or next month or next year,” Buffett said.

During the interview, the “Oracle of Omaha” also highlighted the importance of fully utilizing women when it comes to the economy.

“I think we have made a terrible mistake in this country and a lot of other countries too in not using all of our talent. I mean, if we said we were only gonna let people — men five foot ten or below engage in three or four occupations, it would be regarded as totally nutty. And for decades, centuries, we relegated women to just a few occupations. We did not fully use the talent that’s available. And we’re making progress, but we’ve got a ways to go,” he Buffett said.

“I think there should be more pushing forward in terms of both the outer structure, but then I was also encouraging women to not hold themselves back.”

Buffett, who said he joined Twitter to help draw attention to an article he had written in Fortune about women in business, joined the social network amid much fanfare. Still, he called himself a technophobe.

“You’re still looking at a technophobe who’s kind of pathetic in all things new, but I felt it would give additional distribution, particularly to an article I wanted to have wide distribution about women. So I joined Twitter and it seems to be working,” Buffett said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


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 Phones Buffett Following Cancer Diagnosis

File photo. Official White House photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama phoned billionaire Warren Buffett on Wednesday to wish him well, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Air Force One.

Buffett was diagnosed with stage 1 prostate cancer and will be treated in the coming months. Buffett told shareholders in his company Tuesday that the condition was not life-threatening.

Obama’s tax plan, the Buffett Rule, failed in a Senate vote this week. The Buffett Rule would have made certain that anyone making over $1 million would be subject to a minimum 30 percent tax. It was inspired by the notion that Buffett’s secretary paid a higher percentage in tax than the billionaire did.

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


‘Buffett Rule’ Legislation Introduced in the Senate

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Democrats on Wednesday introduced legislation for the “Buffett Rule,” as called for in President Obama’s State of the Union address last week.

The so-called Buffett Rule, dubbed as such because of the example used by the administration that billionaire investor Warren Buffett pays a rate lower than his own secretary, would ensure that the highest-earning taxpayers pay at least a 30 percent tax rate.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island, introduced the legislation, formally called now the “Paying a Fair Share Act,” Wednesday on the Senate floor.

The legislation ensures that people with incomes exceeding $1 million pay at least a minimum federal tax rate of 30 percent. Taxpayers earning less than $1 million would not be affected by the bill.

If a person’s total income, capital gains included, is more than $1 million, he or she would calculate the taxes under the current system.  If a person’s effective tax rate turns out to be greater than 30 percent, he or she would pay the 30 percent.  But if a person’s effective tax rate is less than 30 percent, as with Warren Buffett’s at 11 percent, then he or she would pay this fair-share tax rate.

There is a provision in the new legislation that would also for the tax to be gradually phased in for taxpayers earning between $1 million and $2 million per year so that no taxpayers face a “tax cliff” where earning an additional dollar of income increases their taxes by more than a dollar. Those between $1 million and $2 million would pay on a phased-in basis a portion of the extra tax required to get up to the 30 percent effective tax rate.

The bill faces an uphill climb with Republican opposition.

The bill has not been officially scored yet by the Joint Committee on taxation, but Sen. Whitehouse estimates that it is likely to bring in between $40 billion and $50 billion a year.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


State of the Union: Buffett Rule Returns Along with Buffett’s Secretary

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- There are always lots of secretaries in attendance at the State of the Union.  High-ranking officials like the Secretary of State, Secretary of Education, Secretary of Defense and the rest of the president’s cabinet traditionally attend.  This year, Warren Buffett’s actual secretary will be there too.

A special guest of President Obama at this year’s State of the Union address, sitting in the box reserved for First Lady Michelle Obama, will be Debbie Bosanek, Warren Buffet’s secretary, who the billionaire investor famously says pays a higher tax rate (as a percentage of her income) than he does.

President Obama intends to make a renewed push for what he calls the "Buffett Rule" in his State of the Union address, on the very day Republican contender Mitt Romney, a millionaire like Obama, released his  tax returns showing he paid a lower rate than many Americans.

“Billionaires should not pay a lower effective tax rate than the middle class. He’ll talk about details tonight,” communications director Dan Pfeiffer tells ABC News. Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor and supporter of President Obama’s, has stated that he should not pay a rate lower than his own secretary.

Pfeiffer says that Bosanek will be seated with Michelle Obama, listening to the address from the first lady’s box in the gallery.

This play, deemed "tax fairness" -- but labeled as decisive "us vs. them" them class warfare by Obama's detractors -- will be the central theme of the president’s third State of the Union address. Pfeiffer says it comes down to American values.

“We can make sure everyone is being responsible, everyone is playing by the same set of rules. And the system both on Wall Street and in Washington is not being rigged at the expense of middle-class and working class Americans.”

After the speech, the president will follow tradition and takes his arguments on the road to settings which illustrate his priorities.

“On Wednesday, he’s going to talk about manufacturing,” Pfeiffer says of the first stops in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Phoenix, Arizona. “How we can discourage outsourcing and encourage ‘insourcing‘ in this country so jobs are created here. On Thursday, [in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Denver, Colorado] he’s going to talk about how a new era of American energy can create jobs here at home and make America more secure. And then on Friday in Michigan he’s going to talk about how we can make college affordable because right now a college degree is a critical gateway to success.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Warren Buffett Chooses Berkshire Hathaway Successor

Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images(OMAHA, Neb.) -- Warren Buffett has chosen his successor at Berkshire Hathaway.  Buffett announced in a 60 Minutes interview scheduled to air Sunday, according to Forbes, that his son Howard will follow him at the company pending board approval.

Howard Buffett, 56, is expected to take the unpaid position of "non-executive chairman," and serve as a "guardian" of the company's "values" after the death of the elder Buffett, who is 81, Forbes reports of the interview.  

While serving in this role, Howard Buffett plans to maintain his job as a corn and soybean farmer.

Copyright 2011 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

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