Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Warren Buffett, Obama ally tells Charlie Rose, people "very, very upset" with government

| No Comments

Billionaire businessman and Obama ally Warren Buffett's New York Times op-ed--where he wrote the super rich should be paying more taxes--(a point he has made before)--worked its way into the political bloodstream on Monday. President Obama cited the op-ed during his stop in Decorah, Iowa. Meanwhile, Buffett told Charlie Rose people are "very, very upset" about how government works.

Buffett's rational conclusion: "I mean, the job of government is to govern."

UPDATED Obama Monday on Buffett's call for shared sacrifice:

"Warren Buffett had an article published today in which he said, "Stop coddling billionaires." He pointed out that -- I think he made about $36 million on income; it was, I guess, an off-year for him -- -- but he pointed out that he paid an effective rate of 17 percent when it came to taxes, which meant that he paid a lower tax rate than anybody else in his office, including his secretary, because most of his income came in the form of capital gains.

"And he made a simple point. He said, look, nobody's income has gone up faster than the top 1 percent. In fact, nobody's gone up faster than the top one-tenth of 1 percent. There's nothing wrong, when it comes to closing our deficit and managing our debt, to say that we should ask a little bit of help from everybody. I don't want a tax cut if it means that senior citizens have to pay an extra $6,000 a year for their Medicare. That's not fair, and that's not right."

Below, excerpt from Charlie Rose show....

Warren Buffett: I think people are very, very upset about how their government works, and, particularly, how it worked during this, raising the deficit ceiling period. I mean, so, as I talk to people, they're very disillusioned. Howard Schultz of Starbucks came up -

Charlie Rose:Right.

Warren Buffett:-- an article just the other day on that. So, I think it's important that whatever is done restores to a degree, and you can't do it overnight, but restores to a degree people's faith in the fact that their government can work. Now, I also think fairness is important, and I think getting rid of promises that you can't keep is important. I don't think we should cut spending dramatically now. I don't think that what I'm talking about on taxes solves the deficit gap at all. But, I think fairness is important. I think having a sensible, long-term plan is important to explain. And I think having it be believable is terribly important, because people don't believe these out-year things generally with Congress. They think too much of what's happened.

Charlie Rose:You want to start a conversation about the reality of taxes?
Warren Buffett:Sure.

Charlie Rose:And the reality of balance and fairness?

Warren Buffett:Yeah. I think it's, I think the American people deserve to be educated what fellows like me are paying in taxes, for example. But, they have to be educated on the reality of future promises. They have to be educated on it as a necessity of running significant deficits when the economy is weak. I mean, there's a lot of things in terms of economic education. But, this is the time to do it. If we don't do it now, if these 12 members who have been appointed now to the super-committee, if they come back with something that's a lot of mush, you know, the American public's had it.

Charlie Rose:And what's happens to the country?
Warren Buffett:It isn't good. It isn't good. The country will still come through. Believe me.
Charlie Rose:Right.

Warren Buffett:We can, we'll rise to whatever occasion demands eventually, but we are wasting so much in the way of potential output in terms of the opportunities for people that we ought to get on with it. I mean, the job of government is to govern.

Leave a comment

Get the Sweet widget

More widgets


Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Stay in touch

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on August 15, 2011 7:10 PM.

Obama in Minnesota: lunches with post 9-11 veterans was the previous entry in this blog.

Obama told: "your negotiating tactics...cut away by compromising some key principles" Transcript is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.