Taxes: Michele Bachmann vs. Warren Buffett

Aug 16, 2011 6:41pm

ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf (@zbyronwolf) reports:

Michele Bachmann rejected Warren Buffett’s plea for the wealthy to pay more in taxes.

“We also believe, unlike Warren Buffett, that taxes are high enough already,” said Bachmann at a campaign event in South Carolina.

Buffett’s argument was that because of lower rates on certain types of income, like capital gains made in the stock market, he pays a far lower tax rate – percentage of his annual income – than his secretary.

“I have a suggestion. Mr. Buffett, write a big check today," said Bachmann. "There’s nothing you have to wait for. As a matter of fact the president has redefined millionaires and billionaires as any company that makes over $200,000 a year. That’s his definition of a millionaire and billionaire. So perhaps Mr. Buffett would like to give away his entire fortune above $200,000. That’s what you want to do? Have at it. Give it to the federal government. But don’t ask the rest of us to have our taxes increased because you want to have a soundbyte. We want to have real job creation in this country and that’s what we’ll stand for as fiscal conservatives.”

Bachmann’s own soundbyte is not entirely accurate. Buffett did not suggest no one could make more than $200,000. President Obama has said he wants Bush-era tax cuts for those individuals making more than $200,000 and families making more than $250,000 to expire after next year. But those people would not have to hand over every dollar made over $200,000, just a higher percentage of that income. And, if the Bush-era tax cuts expire, they’d have to hand over a higher percentage of money made on the stock market.

She would prefer to lower tax rates for the rich and broaden the tax base, making more Americans pay tax. Currently, nearly half of Americans – those at the lower end of the economic spectrum – do not pay income tax. More on that here.

The president during the debt ceiling debate also endorsed closing tax loopholes that benefit corporate jet owners and others. Read more about those here.

But the White House is betting that Americans won’t mind some tax hikes if it can help close the budget gap, as the president’s top campaign adviser told George Stephanopoulos after Republican presidential candidates all said last week they would reject even tax hikes that were offset 10-1 by spending cuts.

Buffett caused a stir with the argument, published in the New York Times, that the rich should pay more in taxes. And he’s trying to influence the “super committee” of lawmakers tasked by Congress with suggesting a solution for the nation’s deficit woes.

Read more about Buffett’s proposal here.

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