According to Warren Buffett, higher taxes for the super rich doesn’t kill jobs.
This morning, I was very pleased to read the words written by a voice of reason: Warren Buffett. Buffett is one of the richest men in the world, a man who built his fortune through investing. This article in the New York Times, “Stop Coddling the Super-Rich,” is his attempt to talk reason to the U.S. Congress using facts.
While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks.
While this isn’t news, what’s refreshing about it is that it’s being stated by one of the “mega-rich,” a man who paid $6.9 million (not a typo) in taxes last year. He points out that while his 2010 tax bill was 17.4 percent of his taxable income, other people in his office paid 33% to 41% (with an average of 36%) of theirs.
It’s the percentages that are important here. Imagine a taxable income of $100K. 17.4% is $17,400. But 36% is more than double that: $36,000. Is it fair that someone with a taxable income of $40 million like Mr. Buffett, who gets to keep about $33 million of that after taxes, should be paying a lower tax rate than someone making $100K who only gets to keep $64K after taxes?
If you don’t know the answer to that question, maybe the picture I provided here for you will help?
(By the way, I’m all for a flat tax and still can’t figure out why we can’t have one. The rate would likely be low enough that folks earning under $200K would save money. And wouldn’t it be nice to figure out your taxes by yourself in an hour instead of paying someone else to do it for you?)
Mr. Buffett goes on to tear apart the argument that higher taxes for the super-rich prevent them from investing or kill jobs:
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.
These are facts from history, not vague guesses based on economic theories. And since Mr. Buffett has a reputation as someone with financial prowess, I’d tend to take his word on the situation before the word of the self-serving morons we’ve elected to Congress — career politicians who would rather lie to the American people than do what’s right for all of us.
Of course, all this makes me wonder why Congress is so insistent that taxes not be raised, even for the wealthiest Americans — people like Buffett who wouldn’t mind a tax increase if it helped the country out of its financial woes. Whose bank accounts are the members of Congress protecting? Their own? Their friends in major corporations who fund their campaigns?
They’re obviously not interested in protecting the bank accounts of the majority of the American people. With unemployment hovering around 9% nationwide, millions of people are tapping into savings, losing their homes, and giving up on the “American Dream.” Yet the government continues to subsidize the oil industry, which continues to reap record profits, offer tax breaks to companies that send American jobs overseas, and enforce a tax code that gives tax breaks to the mega-rich. (By the way, is it a coincidence that the oil industry donates generously to political campaigns? I think not.)
As the Debt Ceiling debates of July 2011 proved, the American Congress is dysfunctional. I really believe that all incumbents should be voted out of office in the next few elections. Start again with a clean slate, hopefully with people who care about their constituents.
But what can we do until then? Contact your Representatives and Senators. Tell them that you think Warren Buffett is right: that the mega rich should be paying the same percentage of taxes as the rest of Americans. If you email them, link to the New York Times piece I quoted here. Tell them to read it and learn. Remind them that they’re working for all of the American people — not the corporations who fund their campaigns.
We need to turn this country around and it’s obviously not going to happen if we wait for our dysfunctional Congress to do it for us.
And in November 2012, remember to vote for someone who has the American people at the top of his or her agenda — not partisan politics.