The Left Defends Buffett

Interestingly, leftist media is pushing back on the claim that Buffet objects to the tax plan. Oh no, they say, the GOP is just misinterpreting what he said.

Warren Buffett identified how many people he expected to be affected by his idea of the ultra-rich paying more:

My program would be on the very high incomes that are taxed very low. Not just high incomes.

He doesn’t give a income figure, but that doesn’t mean he gave no data:

ANDREW: Are you happy with the way it’s being described? Is the program that the White House has presented, a million dollars and over, your program?

BUFFETT: Well, the precise program, which will— I don’t know what their program will be. My program would be on the very high incomes that are taxed very low. Not just high incomes.


BUFFETT: Some guy make a 50 million here playing baseball, his taxes won’t change. Make $50 million a year appearing on television, his income won’t change. But if they make a lot of money and they pay a very low tax rate, like me, it would be changed by a minimum tax that would only bring them up to what the other people pay.

ANDREW: OK. So does that mean you disagree with the president’s new jobs proposal, which would be paid for by raising taxes on households with incomes of over $250,000?

BUFFETT: Now that’s another program that I won’t be discussing. I—my program…

ANDREW: Right.

BUFFETT: …is to have a tax on ultra-rich people who are paying very low tax rate, not just all the rich people; and it would probably apply to 50,000 people in a population of 310 million.

ANDREW: OK. So, but that means you disagree with the president on the 250,000.

BUFFETT: No. No, no, no. You may disagree with him, I don’t know.

ANDREW: No. I don’t know, but I’m asking, so you agree $250,000 is the right number?

BUFFETT: I will look at the overall plan that gets submitted to Congress and which they are voting on and decide, net, do I like it, or do I not like it. I— there’s no question there will be parts I’ll disagree with, just like any plan.

ANDREW: And are you a supporter of his jobs program right now?

BUFFETT: I am a supporter of the action he’s trying to get the Congress to join him in taking to really do something rather than sit there and go in different directions.

ANDREW: But you agree with all the details or no?

BUFFETT: Oh, I haven’t looked at all the details.

Over and over, the interviewer tries to pin him down. Buffett will not answer the question; perhaps he remembers the embarrassment caused when he honestly and directly answered a question before about President Obama’s proposals. That time, the news media simply erased Buffett’s “wrong answer” until bloggers made a fuss about it. Then they put it back as if the edits had never been. I happened to be watching while all this was occurring.

But note above, in the area I highlighted, Mr. Buffett gives data about the people that his plan would affect: “50,000 in a population of 310 million.” So what income or asset levels might he be talking about?

High net worth individuals? No. There are far more than 50,000 of them. According to this article, the number is approximately 17 million in the US, and more than 2.7 million in California alone. That casts a net more than 300 times broader than Warren Buffett was planning.

How about ultra-high net worth individuals? No again. The Buffett Rule would only affect some 10% of them, he suggests, meaning that “ultra-high net worth” is not high enough. According to Wikipedia:

There are currently 496,000 US Households that fall into the UHNW Category, and over 871,000 UHNW Households around the world.[3]

[edit] Ultra high net worth individuals

Ultra high net worth individuals (UHNWIs) are individuals or families who have, by one definition, at least US$30 million in investable assets,[2] or with a disposable income of more than US$20 million.[4]

So, to recap: Warren Buffett, a man who lives by the analysis of data, calculates that his proposed tax increase would affect only people making much more than $20 million per year or that had $30 million in assets. Only about a tenth of even those would qualify. Remember, the United States has well over a thousand billionaires.

No wonder he did not want to answer the question about whether he agreed with the $250,000 per year number.

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle