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Why Warren Buffett is wrong (singling out the super-rich for more taxes is misguided)
CNN ^ | 08/16/2011 | Jeffrey Mirron

Posted on 08/16/2011 10:50:29 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

-- In a recent New York Times op-ed article, Warren Buffett asserts that the super-rich do not pay enough taxes. He suggests that any new budget deal should raise rates on the super-rich, especially on their "unearned" income from interest, dividends and capital gains.

Buffett is wrong. Bad government policies play a major role in generating inappropriately high incomes, but singling out the super-rich is misguided. And the policy Buffett criticizes most -- low tax rates on capital income -- should be expanded, not eliminated.

The first problem with Buffett's view is that the number of super-rich is too small for higher rates to make much difference to our budget problems.

In 2009, the income earned by the 236,833 taxpayers with more than $1 million in adjusted gross income was about $727 billion. Imposing a 10% surcharge on this income would generate at most $73 billion in new revenue -- only about 2% of federal spending. And $73 billion is optimistic; the super-rich will avoid or evade much of the surcharge, significantly lowering its yield.

Focusing on the super-rich also fosters a counterproductive attitude toward material success. The way to promote a hard-working, entrepreneurial and innovative society is to celebrate great wealth so long as it has been earned by legitimate means. When this is not the case, policy should target the wrongdoing directly, not demonize everyone who hits it big.

Most importantly, singling out the super-rich distracts from the real problem: the myriad policies that make no sense in the first place because they inhibit economic growth and that simultaneously redistribute from low-income households to the middle and upper classes.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: millionaires; taxes; warrenbuffet; warrenbuffett; wealthy
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To: SeekAndFind

Buffet is a sick old Democrat. Brainless but just lucky.

21 posted on 08/16/2011 12:49:39 PM PDT by Logical me
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To: SeekAndFind

Warren Buffet is wrong just about everything except picking stocks. He can run my portfolio but I do not want him anywhere near my checkbook. The opposite is true. The best way to control spending and cut the deficit is to tax the 46 per cent who do not pay taxes. It will broaden the tax base. But more importantly, once someone has to pay Federal taxes they are less prone to push for more spending once they realize it will affect their pocketbook.

22 posted on 08/16/2011 12:49:58 PM PDT by chuckee
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To: SeekAndFind
There is only one necessary answer to all these idiot rich liberals calling for more taxes:
Gifts to the United States
U.S. Department of the Treasury
Credit Accounting Branch
3700 East-West Highway, Room 622D
Hyattsville, MD 20782

Given that Buffet knows full well that he can donate and given that he has not made an announcement of a billion dollar donation, we must assume he has an ulterier motive.
23 posted on 08/16/2011 12:51:40 PM PDT by douginthearmy (lifetime registered republican)
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To: SeekAndFind

“that 2-4% would go back into companies instead of a bank account where it then might not get touched again for years and is essentially dead money to our active economy”

Ah, the old Keynesian matress theory. Save us from the big, bad savers, Washington.

Whosoever believes the wealth of the rich sits idly is not qualified to speak on economic matters.

24 posted on 08/16/2011 12:56:39 PM PDT by Tublecane
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To: Age of Reason
Then why not reduce taxes on the super rich, since the number of super-rich is too small for lower rates to make much difference to our budget problems.

Yes. Exactly. A flat tax / Fair Tax would do just that.

25 posted on 08/16/2011 1:02:32 PM PDT by Da Bilge Troll (Defeatism is not a winning strategy!)
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To: SeekAndFind

“One of Warren’s main talking points was that taxation has never stopped investors from buying a good deal.”

Of course it has. Or, rather, it has stopped investors from buying more of a good deal. I suppose Warren is correct if he means that so long as a single penny remains to be spent by private entities, we can still buy into a good deal. Which is true but trivial. The real debate, as always, is over how much or how little of our national wealth the government ought control. Buffet typically evades the issue altogether and leaves unspoken his clear preference for continued government aggrandizement.

What kind of person thinks like this?!?! Answer:

a) someone who believes in the general beneficence of government “investment,” over and above private disposal of private stores of wealth; and

b) someone who stands to personally benefit from continued and expanded governmental disposal of private wealth.

26 posted on 08/16/2011 1:10:02 PM PDT by Tublecane
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To: re_nortex

“Those who have low incomes can always increase their wealth through diligence, smarts and good old ingenuity.”

Yes, people too seldom realize the “poor” and “rich” of social science statistics often characterize the same person at different times in his life. The poorest among us are typically teenagers, and the wealthiest the elderly. Talk of a permanent underclass is either lies or loose talk, with the exception of dependents of the Welfare State.

27 posted on 08/16/2011 1:15:42 PM PDT by Tublecane
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To: SeekAndFind

“Buffett also completely ignores the impact of the death tax, which will result in the federal government seizing 45 percent of his assets”

Obama sold Buffet some snake oil, which Buffet believes will allow him to live forever. So the Death Tax is a non-issue.

28 posted on 08/16/2011 1:18:15 PM PDT by Tublecane
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To: DoughtyOne

You sure don’t hear Ted Turner, Peelosi or Jane Fonda chimining in with him. Guess they’re not all as sh-theaded.

29 posted on 08/16/2011 1:36:12 PM PDT by Waco (Nominate Palin or forget 2012 you lost)
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To: SeekAndFind

Here’s a question for Warren Buffett: Suppose hypothetically that many years ago, I founded an investment company called... let’s call it Hathaway-Berkshire (”HB”), which pays me $1 per year as president and CEO. Let’s assume that HB is so successful that the price per share has risen over the years from $10 to $125,000 and as a result, I as the larget shareholder of HB have a net worth of $40 billion. Let’s also assume that to reduce the income tax liabity of the HB investors, HB doesn’t pay a dividend or make capital gains distribution, rather the profit to the shareholder is the capital appreciation of the shares, which produces a long term capital gain, taxable at 20%, if and when the shares are sold, subject to an offset for capital loses and other investment expenses.

Since I only pay myself $1 a year, I need another source of money to live on, but I don’t want to sell my shares in HB because I don’t want to pay taxes on the capital appreciation. Instead, I go to my friendly bank, and borrow $5 billion, secured by my HB stock, at preferred interest rates, and then use part of what I borrow to pay the interest on the loan and invest the balance of the loan in double tax free municipal bonds. I then live comfortably off the tax free income from the borrowed money.

Thanks to HB, I am now one of the wealthiest men in the world, but I pay very little taxes on ordinary income because I only make a $1 a year in salary. I don’t pay any taxes on dividends or capital gains because as president and CEO of HB, I decided not to declare a dividend or distribute capital gains, and I haven’t sold any shares in HB in decades and therefore, I haven’t had to pay any capital gains taxes on the capital appreciation. Instead, I have borrowed money to invest in double tax free muni’s, which allows me to write-off as an invesgtment expense at least part of the cost of borrowing the money to shelter thelittle bit of taxable income or capital gains that slips through the cracks.

I can scream all I want about why the wealthy should pay more income and capital gains taxes, but none of this will affect me personally, because I have spend millions and millions of dollars on tax lawyers, accountants, and political campaigns to make sure that I have no taxable income or capital gains, and therefore, increasng the income tax rate and/or capital gains rate on the wealthy will mean nothing to me because I, as one of the wealthiest people in the world, have little if any taxable income or investment gains. I

30 posted on 08/16/2011 2:01:43 PM PDT by Labyrinthos
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To: Labyrinthos

Good post!

31 posted on 08/16/2011 2:19:26 PM PDT by editor-surveyor (Going 'EGYPT' - 2012!)
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To: Labyrinthos

Yours is a very good analogy here. But I think I am trying to understand Warren Buffet’s “Tax-me-more” mentality...

First, let’s talk about the issue of -— “He can always write a check to Uncle Sam”. I don’t think the man got to be Billionaire because he is stupid and doesn’t know that he can donate his money to Uncle Sam anytime he likes. HE KNOWS THAT, sohe does not need anyone’s advise.

Anyone calling for him to write a blank check to the government can’t see the forest through the trees.

Buffet knows that a “donation” to the US government (which is effectively what most FReepers are asking him to do) won’t even make a ripple in the government revenue stream.

But I think that he’s thinking -— If he asks everyone of the “super-rich” to do it with me (which is exactly the point of his article), then it makes more sense because of the COLLECTIVE amount.

So, if his Collective Amount is viewed from his own lenses, then, Buffet’s “I’m only going to do it if you make me” argument would make perfect sense.

He’s waiting to donate his money to the Gates Foundation because he knows that the best way to make an impact is for compounding to continue to work until he no longer has any control over it (aka death). The Gates Foundation is well funded until then, and probably has no immediate use of the money.

Anybody who has followed the career of the man will begin to understand his thinking -— Spending is an issue, but so is income inequality and THAT is what Buffet thinks he is trying to address... FAIRNESS ( misguided as he is ).

Buffet believes that sooner or later the income gap will shrink - either by choice or by force. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t want the latter (not that he would be around to see it.).

Just trying to go into the mind of the man folks, to find out why he’s asking to be taxed more.

32 posted on 08/16/2011 3:19:52 PM PDT by SeekAndFind (u)
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