Monday, August 15, 2011

Warren Buffett Speaks Briefly On Taxes

by Dick Mac

Warren Buffett is one of the richest Americans in the world.

Today he wrote a piece for the New York Times Op-Ed page, titled Stop Coddling the Super-Rich.

It's a brilliant use of verbs. Generally, "conservative" people only use the word "coddle" to refer to those they do not like who happen to be receiving the exact same benefits of government and taxes as they themselves receive. Sometimes these people who are accused of being "coddled" are getting and using far less government services than an upper middle-class or wealthy person.

To use the verb "coddle" in reference to the wealthiest Americans is anathema to the entire "conservative" agenda; but, its use by Buffett is perfectly accurate.

I wish so-called "conservatives" would read what Buffett says, because he is one of the people the "conservatives" is talking about when they say a reduced tax-burden will result in men like him investing more money and creating more jobs.

This is what he has to say about that:
Back in the 1980s and 1990s, tax rates for the rich were far higher, and my percentage rate was in the middle of the pack. According to a theory I sometimes hear, I should have thrown a fit and refused to invest because of the elevated tax rates on capital gains and dividends.

I didn’t refuse, nor did others. 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. 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. You know what’s happened since then: lower tax rates and far lower job creation.

Yes, people on the far-right, fringe lunatics with lots of money who fund the tea party, have convinced millions (well, at least some thousands) of "conservatives" to support a movement that removes the tax burden from the rich and places it squarely on the backs of the working-class and middle-class.

The "conservative" idea seems to be that the long suffering gazillionaires need to be protected from the policies of the big bad federal government, and "conservatives" (most of whom are the middle-class hurt by these policies) are happy to help them do it.

It's refreshing to read that a gazillionaire is not interested in destroying America so he can pay one or two points less on his income, and to state unequivocally that he does not support the current set-up.

He uses IRS data to draw his conclusions:
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.

The rich have had a nice time enjoying the benefits of our government, a government that is funded primarily by the middle-class, and it's time they started paying as much as the rest of us.

It would be the patriotic thing to do.

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