Warren Buffett Tells Congress To Raise Taxes On Wealthy

Billionaire says rich do not bear enough of the tax burden, should pay more.

ByABC News
August 15, 2011, 11:52 AM

Aug. 15. 2011 -- Warren Buffett, one of the richest men in the country, wants to pay more taxes and thinks his super-rich friends should too.

Buffett, who is estimated to be worth more than $47 billion, called on Congress to commit to "shared sacrifice" and raise taxes on people earning more than $1 million. Buffett said the rich are "coddled" by Congress "as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species."

"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," Buffett wrote in a Sunday New York Times Op-ed.

President Obama cited Buffett's op-ed today during his remarks at the first stop on his presidential Midwest bus tour. The president said Buffett's call for taxing the wealthy shows that his "balanced" approach to deficit reduction is the best option.

Obama said Buffett enjoyed a lower tax rate because the majority of his income comes from capital gains, which are taxed at a lower rate.

"You don't get those tax breaks," Obama said to the Cannon Falls, Minn. audience. "You're paying more than that and I think you're a little less wealthy than he is."

Over the next three months 12 members of Congress will decide how to fix the country's fiscal crisis and cut at least $1.5 trillion from the 10-year budget deficit. Half of those committee members are from the Republican Party, which has vowed not to raise taxes.

Buffett, who has spoken out in favor of raising taxes on the rich multiple times, urged the super-committee to increase income taxes for the 236,000 people who earned more than $1 million in 2009, including taxes on investment profits such as capital gains and dividends. For the 8,000 people who made more than $10 million in 2009, Buffett suggested an even higher tax increase.

The billionaire said he paid about $7 million in payroll and income taxes last year. That is about 17.4 percent of his taxable income, a lower proportion than any of the other 20 people in his office whose tax burdens range from 33 percent to 41 percent, he said.

"My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It's time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice," Buffett wrote.

In the July 23 Republican weekly remarks debt super-committee member Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas., said higher taxes could "destroy even more jobs."