Who framed Warren Buffett?

Or rather, who framed his written argument? I don’t know if anyone else has picked up on this, but there’s an authorship question concerning Warren Buffett.

A month and a half ago, an editorial entitled “Stop Coddling the Super Rich” appeared in the New York Times. It complains, once again, about the high tax rates paid in his office by everyone but him, and suggests that not one of the other people in his office make any money from investments. It also names their top rate (which applies only to the highest portion of income) and states that this is the rate applied to their entire income.

These statements are false, as I and others have noted before. They are so false, in fact, that they resemble something Barack Obama would say. The article uses phrases that I’ve not seen in Mr. Buffett’s writings, and it makes other claims that are utterly wrong, about issues that Mr. Buffett knows well and makes his living knowing.

I wouldn’t have thought that Warren Buffett could write such a false, misleading, self-despising class-warfare laden document. He keeps referring to “the mega-rich” and complains that they “shun work” and implies that he does something similar. He claims that tax rates make no impact on people’s investment decisions, when Buffett has made huge amounts of money counseling people on that exact topic. In fact, this tax scare will drive more business his way.

But with Warren Buffett’s recent interview, he has demonstrated that he did not write that editorial. I would guess that it was written by an Administration flunkie, and then Warren was asked to allow his name to be used.

The same writer who made the statements in the August editorial could not be the person who so pointedly disagreed with them in September. Mr. Buffett has allowed words to be put in his mouth, which is almost as bad as lying himself. Either that or he has Alzheimer’s disease, and there was no evidence of that in the recent interview that I saw.

This reinforces other oddities I’d noted in recent interviews — they tend to come in at the middle of a conversation, specifically a conversation about taxes. As if he’d just said something different, but they wanted to skip over that.

Buffett has made these general noises for some time, that the very wealthy don’t pay as much tax rate as lower income earners. He also counts Social Security as a “tax” in his calculations to help prove this, as well as counting taxes paid by employers as being against the employee. He always seems to skip mentioning that he pays more than 700 times as much tax as his secretary, and vaguely suggests that it’s not fair that capital gains taxes are low (despite the increase in capital gains revenue that happened when the rate was lowered). He wants it higher, he suggests, for certain people.

But when he gets down to actual details, his proposal is very different from the “Buffett Rule” put forth by Obama, and offered up as an editorial in the New York Times. His plan affects tens of thousands (according to Buffett speaking in the interview), but the editorial would affect hundreds of thousands. And it isn’t the “mega rich” he talks about, it is a broader base of job creators.

While Buffett’s tax businesses welcome them as clients. Interesting.

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