Billionaire investor Warren Buffett is calling for high taxes on what he calls the “mega-rich.” In a New York Times op-ed piece, Buffett says he and his friends have been coddled long enough by Congress and that it’s time for the government to get serious about shared sacrifice.Buffett said he would immediately raise rates on households with taxable income of more than $1 million and add an additional increase for those making $10 million or more.
He also recommends that the 12 members of Congress charged with devising a deficit-cutting plan leave rates for 99.7 percent of taxpayers unchanged.
Buffett noted that the mega-rich pay income taxes at a rate of 15 percent on most investment income but practically nothing in payroll taxes. The middle class, meanwhile, typically falls into the 15 percent and 25 percent income tax brackets and is hit with heavy payroll taxes. He said Washington legislators “feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species.”
Buffett said he knows many of the mega-rich well, and most wouldn’t mind paying more in taxes, especially when so many fellow citizens are suffering. He also said he has yet to see anyone shy away from investments because of tax rates on potential gains, even when rates were much higher in the mid-1970s, 1980s and 1990s.
“People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off,” he said.
Fellow billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg isn’t exactly cheerleading for Buffett’s idea.
“We have to understand in this country if you’re going to balance the budget it has to be with spending less and raising revenues,” Bloomberg said. “If you only did one of the two there’s no conceivable way that you could have a balanced budget even with doing it, it’s going to be a great challenge.
Last week, Bloomberg called on the Obama administration to “raise everybody’s taxes.”
“If you want to raise taxes, don’t pick one class of people and say ‘I think they have too much money’ … Raise everybody’s taxes one or two percent,” Bloomberg said.
Buffett’s remarks come after a wild week on Wall Street. On Friday, the Dow Jones industrial ended the week on a high note and closed up 125 points, marking the first time in more than a month that the market has risen two days in a row.
The Dow Jones industrial average soared 423 points on Thursday. It had already fallen 634 points Monday, risen 429 Tuesday and fallen 519 Wednesday. Never before has the Dow had four 400-point swings in a row.