Back on August 29, 2011 and before that on Aug 16th, we addressed the constant grumble from Warren Buffett – he pays too little in taxes. That was his motivation to suggest that taxes need to be higher, at least for the top earners in the nation and those living off of investments like himself. The concern was driven by the fact that Mr. Buffett pays less tax (on a percentage basis only) than his secretary.
We delved into those claims, and it is true. Of course the fact that Mr. Buffett makes the majority of his income from investments, like many retired pensioners across the nation (to far less dollar amounts, given), was completely overlooked in his conversation. A fact that significantly and materially changes the situation. Thus his request to increase the taxes on investments does not just affect him and his ability to afford such an increase, but also retirees. Many of these retirees, living off their IRA and pensions (funded by the evil stock market that the various Occupy movements want to get rid of), likely would find such an increase in taxation less affordable than Buffett.
But separate of that, we asked a question. Why don’t you (Mr. Buffett) just donate to the IRS whatever you think you should pay in taxes? As we noted, nothing in the universe is stopping him from voluntarily giving money to the Government. As of August 29th we found that a total of 814 American had done just that. Mr. Buffett was not among those 814 Americans.
“To be exact, all of 814 people across America donated a total of under $1 million to the Financial Management Service. That’s 1 in 377,149 people. Or, compare to the debt, about .000000007% of the national debt rounded down to just $14 trillion. Mr. Buffett, et al, are not part of the contributions to date. By the way, the daily national debt interest payment is $2.1 billion – conservatively.”
Instead of standing up and becoming an example, Warren Buffett took another route. Rather than donating a single dime to the Government that he feels needs his money, he went to the media. On January 11, 2012 he spoke with Time Magazine and issued a challenge to Republicans in Congress.
The challenge? He will match, dollar for dollar, any donation to the US Treasury made by Republicans in Congress.
Nice touch and it makes for a good headline. But since Mr. Buffett is a multi-billionaire, couldn’t he have challenged ALL the Republicans in Congress to match a donation by him to the Government? Perhaps even making the challenge to all Republicans in America to match a $1 billion dollar donation to the IRS. Honestly, he can afford such bravado.
But he did not do so. Nor did he bother to check if any Republicans have been making donations to the IRS. Rep. Scott Rigell of VA was one of the 814 people (that did not include Buffett) in 2011 that voluntarily donated to the IRS. He donated $23,103.33 and plans to have total donations for 2012 of about $26,100. That’s 15% of his income.
Mr. Buffett should be glad he did not challenge to match the percentage of income donated to the IRS. But to his credit, he is matching the prior and 2012 donations of Rep. Scott Rigell.
The thing is, Buffett is ONLY matching the donation made. Rep. Rigell took a stance, without publicity beforehand, to be an example. A stance of leadership that Warren Buffett’s own father took when he rejected an increase in pay when his father was in Congress in the 1940’s. A stance and leadership that Warren Buffett could easily afford and take at any moment, yet repeatedly fails to do.
Warren buffett is a great investor. The best the markets have ever seen. But he is no politician, nor does he deserve the great position many on the Left give him. If he wants to make a statement about taxes, donate. Don’t wait for someone else, don’t follow. Do it.
Mr. Buffett states in his response to Rep. Rigell that a competition between Democrats and Republicans, donating to the IRS above and beyond what they are required to pay in taxes, is something “that the American public would applaud.” Perhaps there would have already been applause and action if back in August 2011, and again this month, Mr. Buffett did what he wants others to do instead.
Of course Mr. Buffett did not end his letter to Rep. Rigell with just kudo’s for having done what Buffett failed to do. He added that,
“We also very likely agree that spending must drop to 20 -21% of GDP along with revenue increasing to 18 – 19%.”
An interesting position, considering that Democrats and Liberals insist on continuing to spend more money than is available (President Obama will request yet another increase to the debt ceiling later this month – after the over $1 trillion granted just last year), and the majority of Americans have yet to recover from the recession – even almost 2 years after the “Summer of Recovery” proclaimed by President Obama.
Just maybe Warren Buffett needs to spend more time talking to Democrats about spending like a drunk sailor, no offense to sailors, than asking Republicans to do things he won’t do himself?