Time for Warren Buffett to walk his talk

by David Esrati on August 15, 2011

in America in Crisis, campaign finance, Our Broken political system

In yesterday’s New York Times, the oracle of Omaha wrote a plea for Congress to “Stop coddling the super-rich” and raise his taxes and all those of the people making more than $1million a year.

I highly recommend you read it- and then laugh:

OUR leaders have asked for “shared sacrifice.” But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched.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.

via Stop Coddling the Super-Rich – NYTimes.com.

This is my response to Mr. Buffett.

If Mr. Buffett was truly sorry about the situation the poor and middle class (which for his info are becoming one and the same) were in, he could change the tax code the same way it got the way it is- by buying his own politicians, just like all his rich friends have for years.

In fact, this is his way of side-stepping the expensive process that runs our country, the one that we mock in other countries as corrupt- the pay-to-play system, the auction of political office to the highest bidder. Buffett doesn’t want to have to pay to get his way- instead he just writes an op-ed column for the New York Times and walks away.

The real answer is for him to back a third party slate of honest politicians (if they can still be found) to go to Washington and do his bidding for him. First order of business would be to pass laws to publicly fund elections, taking the grease out of the fundraising wheels, and second, to reform our elections so that it’s not a lesser of two evils choice, moving to instant runoff ballots. Those two changes would give his ideas of changing the tax code a chance to actually happen.

Buffett is no stranger to giving money to politicians- you can look up his donations here:

http://www.fec.gov/finance/disclosure/norindsea.shtml

His total is $119,400 according to the FEC- and while that may seem like a lot to some of us, it’s barely rounding error on his taxes (he seems to favor Dems). Frankly, he’s not even a player in the political slush fund arena- which may be one reason he’s so wealthy.

There are solutions to stop coddling the rich and help the rest of us. Mr. Buffett, they require someone to outbid your wealthy friends on our behalf. Are you up to it?

 

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{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

joe_mamma August 16, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Of course he wants higher taxes…the more government expands the more money Buffet makes…

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-07-08/buffett-says-adm-is-kind-of-company-we-look-at-as-he-evaluates-takeovers.html
 
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/18/goldman-sachs-warren-buffett_n_837706.html
A perfect example that “corporations” are not model capitalists.  They try to manipulate the system to make more money.  That’s why government should be limited and taxes low and flat.

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bobby August 16, 2011 at 12:32 pm

  The ommission of Berkshire Hathaways campaign contributions might give the impression that Buffet has not spent his career protecting his political and financial interests. He has.
  Between 1989 and 2010 Berkshire Hathaway spent $4,994,364. in campaign contributions.

  Between 1997 and 2011 Berkshire Hathaway spent $32,044,119. lobbying on behalf of Berkshire Hathaway’s interests. The most frequently disclosed lobbying issues were TAXES, energy and environment nuclear power, federal budget and appropriations, railroads, utilities and finance.  

  My guess is Berkshire’s lobbying efforts on taxes were not to increase taxes on Berkshire or Berkshires sharholders, including Warren Buffet.  
    

       

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Greg Hunter August 16, 2011 at 7:34 pm

Buffet is a bum and talks a good game but is a consummate insider….If he wanted to change things he would take about 50 million and back an opposition party candidate in all close races in congress.  IE back a solid candidate against the ingrained Turner….A President does nothing without congress. 

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truddick August 18, 2011 at 9:00 am

Ross Perot said the same things.  I brought him up so that some tangential attacks can be made against him also.

Or does anyone want to instead focus on the facts on the ground, regardless of who claims them?  The wealthiest citizens are paying an effective tax rate of 27% of their income; we ordinary folks are paying around 40%.

http://www.askquestions.org/articles/taxes/

The actual tax rates are obscured by the different types of taxes.  Yes, the wealthy pay a higher federal income tax bracket; however much of their income is capital gains, which is taxed at 15%.  Their contributions to social security are capped so that they pay almost zero percent.  They purchase less, as a percentage of income, than us paycheck-to-paycheck types so that they pay less sales and property tax.

Rather than thanking Warren Buffett and Ross Perot for honestly pointing out how we’re getting bled, so far the respondents here want to kill the messenger and offer the other side of their neck to the vampires. 

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Jesse August 18, 2011 at 10:01 am

I know I have posted this link before but please take a look at it.  

http://mises.org/daily/3822

When all you focus on is who gives money to the government and fail to look at to whom does the government give money it provides a very skewed view of things.  It would make you believe that “the rich aren’t paying their fair share” or some other such drivel. 

The middle class and the rich are paying more than their “fair share” already.

The next biggest problem with all of these discussions is that they speak about the rich as a social group that 1) doesn’t allow new individuals to join the ranks and 2)  doesn’t allow you to leave once you are in.

As a small business owner, let me tell you, I am sometimes a member of the “rich” and sometimes I am worried about making ends meet.  

From Wikipedia:

“Moving between quintiles is more frequent in the middle quintiles (2-4) than in the lowest and highest quintiles. Of those in one of the quintiles 2-4 in 1996, approximately 35% stayed in the same quintile; and approximately 22% went up one quintile or down one quintile (moves of more than one quintile are rarer). However, 42% of children born in the bottom quintile are most likely to stay there, and another 42% move up to the second and middle quintile[3]. On the opposite end of the spectrum, 39% of those who were born into the top quintile as children in 1968 are likely to stay there, and 23% end up in the fourth quintile[3]. Children previously from lower-income families had only a 1% chance of having an income that ranks in the top 5%[4]. On the other hand, the children of wealthy families have a 22% chance of reaching the top 5%[4].”

Can anyone correlate the two sources of information to make a conclusion as to why it is that lower income individuals find it more difficult in their own lives and generationally?  Could it be that the implicit marginal tax rate of effort is so high.

The fact is that if you removed this hurdle, via less government expenditures on the “poor”, the income mobility would be increased and mirror the 2-4 quintiles more closely.

Thomas Sowell on “the poor”

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0S-O6WDalug

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bobby August 18, 2011 at 8:59 pm

@Truddick, When ones net worth exceeds 50 billion, one is not concerned about anything other than meeting his maker. Warren Buffet’s, late to the dance, pontifications about tax fairness may help him with his God, but It doesn’t work for me.   

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Gary August 19, 2011 at 9:52 am

Amen Bobby!  I’d much rather have a good family and some good friends over tons of cash, because once you acquire tons of cash, you get tons of new bad family and friends …

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truddick August 20, 2011 at 10:02 am

So much to think about–

Jesse rightly complains that the wealthy should not be thought of stereotypically as a group that all thinks alike and that wants to keep its ranks closed–then bobby comes in with a claim that all wealthy people think alike and their only concern is themselves.  hmmm….

Jesse, as always, there’s data and there’s interpretation.  I’ve long been aware of that implicit marginal tax rate problem–those on welfare do not take minimum-wage jobs because it’s a net loss for them, they wind up with no health insurance which is particularly costly to them.  A simple solution would be to incentivize employment by allowing those transitioning away from welfare to keep receiving enough benefits to make it worth their while.  Yes, another simple solution that our elected officials fail to enact.

But I question the specifics of the article.  Thies seems to have ignored sales and property taxes, and I suspect he hasn’t counted such things as corporate welfare (oil/gas subsidies, farm subsidies, tax-increment financing, outright grants, etc.) as benefits for the wealthiest.  And as for Thomas Sowell–recently I saw one of his columns in the DDN that I thought was well-reasoned, which was the first ever.

Does tax fairness mean that everyone pays precisely the same percentage?  Or does fairness mean that those who are capable of bearing more of the load should shoulder more of the load?  At present, our system matches neither of those ideals–rather, it puts a larger proportion of the load on those of average capacities.

The U.S. currently is in debt.  It would be wise to reduce that debt.  If you need cash, do you look for it from people who have none–or from those who have oodles?  I say that making the tax and benefits system fair–much less, progressive–is the best way through.  That means raising taxes and cutting subsidies for the wealthiest individuals and corporations.

Yes, many of them (e.g., the Koch brothers) will squawk and will try to finance political campaigns for politicians who will serve their selfish interests.  Then there are the Warren Buffetts of the world.  Your choice; do you wish to believe the wealthy person who says “the rules are biased in my favor” or the one who says “he who has the gold makes the rules”? 

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bobby August 20, 2011 at 7:00 pm

“comes in with a claim that all wealthy people think alike and their only concern is themselves.”  Wrong conclusion. i will clarify the earlier post.

    Warren Buffet’s net worth, reportedly more than 50 billion, allows him to do almost anything he wants anytime he wants. He has no financial constraints or conditions or anything to be concerned about. He is 80 years old and intelligent. He has probably contemplated “a camel has a better chance of passing through the eye of a needle” which would explain why he might be  concerned with his maker…….Late to the dance was a cynical reference to Buffet’s recent eureka editorial that nowS537 at age 80, he should be paying more taxes. 

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Jesse August 21, 2011 at 4:59 pm

Professor,

It is always a pleasure to debate with you these thought provoking issues.  

First: 

In defense of the study posted above:  The number of taxes paid by an individual in the US makes it virtually impossible to compile the information that provides a “complete” picture of the tax situation for a group of individuals.  It is difficult enough to determine your own tax liability in a year.  This does, admittedly, take into account only the taxes paid to the government based on EARNINGS and the difficulty with regard to the desire of individuals to EARN money.

It seems a bit odd to me, however, to quibble over the sales tax paid by people earning no money.  They are paying the government with money that was taken from me by the government and given to them.

That said, I will, as ever, engage.  

While the U.S. tax system is progressive, the distribution of government spending makes
the overall fiscal system more progressive than is apparent from tax distributions alone.
Using a microdata model we estimate the distribution of federal, state and local taxes and
spending between 1991 and 2004. We find households in the lowest quintile of income
received roughly $8.21 in federal, state and local government spending for every dollar of
taxes paid in 2004, while households in the middle quintile received $1.30, and
households in the top quintile received $0.41. Overall, tax payments exceeded
government spending received for the top two quintiles of income, resulting in a net
fiscal transfer of between $1.031 trillion and $1.527 trillion between quintiles.

Andrew Chamberlain and
Gerald Prante*
Tax Foundation Working Paper No. 1

I would suggest that people take the time to read the entire document but am under no illusions that this will happen as it is 116 pages long without references.

Essentially, the people here did what you are suggesting should have been done above.  The abstract is sufficient to get the point.  “Fairness” isn’t a subjective idea.  Fairness has a specific meaning.  It is defined as “the state, condition, or quality of being fair,  or free from bias or injustice; even-handedness”

You can’t say therefore that people should be exposed to bias because of the wealth they have amassed or the income they earn and call it “fairness”.  You can appeal to something else…but fairness, just isn’t a fair use of the language.

Second:

It is a straw-man argument that I am advocating subsidy to large business or rich people.  You and I have had many discussions and in none of them can you find any evidence that I support ANY government interaction in the marketplace.  This is even more true with regard to the “public-private partnerships”, “green energy subsidy”, “bailouts of the banks”, etc.  I decry all of this as fascist economic policy.  I am often given thumbs-downs for mentioning the corporatism inherent in the economic system that is wrongly called capitalism on this site.

Third:

It is interesting to me that you start in the middle of the story. “The U.S. currently is in debt.  It would be wise to reduce the debt.”  I agree completely.  The difference is that I want us to look at how we got here.  

Did we get here by collecting too few taxes from rich people?  Were they getting too much back out of the system?  
Please look at the tax analysis and decide for yourself.  If one group is getting $0.41 and other groups are getting $8.21 in benefits…you tell me who is causing the deficit and the debt.

Both political parties understand that the way to get elected is to promise that people will “get what they deserve.” This always ends up meaning in practice, I will give you other people’s stuff if you vote for me.  The Republicans do it with military and farms and Democrats do it with immigrants and intercity poor.

We got here because we promised that which was NEVER possible.  Both parties are at fault.  Only one option left…vote them all out and rescind the promises for which we cannot provide.  This means big pain for everyone and I don’t suggest it lightly. Unfortunately, we allowed the monster to grow and now we have to fight it before it gets so large that it devours us all.

Please see the boom-bust cycle:  Time and Money:  

The Macroeconomics of Capital Structure
by Roger W. Garrison
London: Routledge, 2001

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Greg Hunter August 21, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Jesse you have the correct analysis and solution as everyone hates congress except their own guy. There will be no serious challenger to our corporate sellout Turner.

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Greg Hunter August 21, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Jesse I will quible that the Rich do not warrant the .41 cents at all and is WAY too much. The reason they got rich is that America is a stable society. The greed of thebanker bail outs has destabilized society and everyone loses in that game.

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Gary August 21, 2011 at 7:35 pm

Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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Bubba Jones August 23, 2011 at 9:09 am

Here’s a guy that thinks just a little differently than ol’ Warren….

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Jesse August 28, 2011 at 11:42 am

Greg,

I don’t think we have ever agreed about anything and I was worried until I saw your second post.  You think that .41 cents return on $1 paid is too much?!  How would you propose that it go to zero?  Should wealthy people not be allowed access to the roads for which they pay? get fire and ambulance access?  access to mortgages backed by govt? access to public education? food inspected by the fda?  public access television?  

Are you actually advocating that the wealthy should have to pay taxes and receive no services in return?

 

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truddick August 30, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Bobby:  Warren Buffet has been saying that his taxes should be raised for years; I’ve seen him on TV more than once explaining why.  So your “late to the dance” complaint is untrue.  Moreover, it’s irrelevant; if he’s been paying a lower overall tax rate than his employees for years, then why does it matter when the truth is told?  Finally: he’s not the only one saying this, H. Ross Perot did so when running for president, and recently Henry Bloch, co-founder of HR Block tax service, said the same (and do you think HE doesn’t know taxes?).

Jesse: reasonable debate is delightful.  If you want to look big picture, I say that the problem you’re citing is based on our government not separating revenues from expenditures.  Short version: I think that all taxes should be criteria-based, as should all expenditures, and the two should be kept apart.

That means that every tax should be assessed based on conditions.  Income taxes might be bracketed, and everyone who falls into a bracket pays the same rate–no deductions for having houses or kids or medical expenses or union dues.  Sales taxes might be levied by type of purchase; corporate taxes by type and revenue of business.  That way, we’d have a clearer picture of who pays what (which might lead to more tax fairness, depending on who we elect) and also we’d have more reliable revenue projections.

Expenditures, meanwhile, could be dedicated to promoting particular social or corporate activity–but it would have to be in the form of grants programs, where anyone couldl apply and distribution of a grant would depend on a review process.

But until those utopian ideals become actual policy, I continue to insist that the wealthy are paying lower overall tax rates than anyone posting here.  Dwelling on whether the poor are subsidized is another issue, one that might be better addressed along with educaton, distribution of wealth, and employment-related questions.

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Jesse August 30, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Professor:

You seem to have focused entirely on the third point.

I think that the position you seem to have taken in your last post is very difficult to defend.  You are now saying that we should consider taxes paid and benefits received completely separately but then note that because of current tax policy it is hard to get them unwound.  Which, I agree, would be a better system if possible.  Flat tax rates without incentives would be a better system than the one we have now.  You then state that expenditures should be dedicated to promoting social or corporate activity.  This is, I assume, based on the “need” of the individuals receiving the benefit.  Guess what.  I have a problem with this morally.  

Is it reasonable to take from me $10, give me back $4.10, give someone else $8.21, pay yourself $4 for the difficulty and borrow the additional $8.31 against my future earnings and say that you did a moral thing by helping the guy to whom you gave $8.21?  

However, the biggest problem is that you nowhere address the issue of debt.  In your Utopian system should the taxes received and the expenditures have to balance?  If they do have to balance then how much should be taken from one group and given to another?  Is it reasonable that $0.41 goes back to the wealthy?  Is it reasonable that a vast majority of people get more benefit than they fund (even the middle quintile gets out 130% payments)?  

This will eventually stop.  You can’t rely on 40% of the taxpayers to fund the lifestyle of 100% of the population.

You also can’t rely on borrowing money forever as savers will eventually demand too high an interest rate.  We have got to stop spending at these levels.  We have got to get back to a sound economic system.  

 

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bobby August 31, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    “Before we, the people, will agree to a tax increase -we demand the following reforms:   

1.)  Give the American people the detailed financial plan for tax increases, spending increases, and spending cuts.
2.)  Publish an accurate , audited quarterly financial report that will allow the taxpayers to see the actual results of taxing & spending.
3.)  Pass the Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution
4.)  Give the President the Line Item Veto.    
5.)  Pass a term limitation law as part of the tax increase package. If the financial forecasts do not produce results on schedule, a term limit law would automatically take effect.
6.)  Eliminate foreign lobbyists. Curtail domestic lobbyists.
7.)  Change federal election laws to eliminate the influence of special interests.  
8.)  Shorten the time for political campaigns.  ”    
                                     
                         Source: NOT FOR SALE AT ANY PRICE by Ross Perot 1993

       Warren Buffet, in a recent CNBC interview, said, “I could end the deficit in five minutes. You just pass a law that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election. 
    Warren is a little late on this one, too . Perot’s number five, above, is being recycled by Buffet. 
           

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truddick September 3, 2011 at 9:11 am

Well, Jesse, it’s hard to write expansive responses to multiple-point questions on a blog.

Yes, I think we need to reduce the national debt.  I don’t think anyone in their right mind would want to maintain or increase it.  Of course, step one is to balance revenues and spending.

In your analyses, I keep seeing pin-point dollar figures, as if there’s some empirical accounting that shows that the wealthiest citizens–who pay a smaller percentage of income in taxes than you or I–are getting 41 cents of benefit for every $10 in taxes paid, while the lower class is getting over $8 while paying nothing.  Such misleading pseudo-precision!  How do you break out the individual benefit of the military, of the interstate highway system, or public education?  The wealthy derive income from the public roads, while those of average income benefit from cheaper distribution of consumer goods.  The wealthy benefit from public education despite paying $30,000/year tuition for their own scions, because public education provides them with a workforce that isn’t entirely stupid.

Society, Jesse, is a nonzero sum enterprise.  Do it right and everyone benefits.

Now the question reverts to Warren Buffet, who honestly states that he’s paying a lower percentage in overall taxes than you or I.  The statement is true.  Even if you choose to disagree with the idea that those who have reaped the greatest benefits might shoulder more of the costs, the system is unfair and greatly biased in favor of the rich.

To balance the national budget and to start to pay down the debt, the simplest and most fair solution would be to somehow get the rich individuals and corporations to pay the same percentage in overall taxes as you and I. 

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Jesse September 3, 2011 at 10:55 am

Truddick,

I am guessing that you didn’t read the 116 page study that I suggested above before you started decrying it and stating that it is impossible to determine the value of government services to individuals.  

You, probably unknowingly,do bring up one of the main problems of government spending on goods or services, it is impossible to know the actual value of a good produced via central planning, often leading to misallocation of resources into unnecessary areas.  The is called the Economic Calculation Problem.  This, however, is hardly a point in favor of more government taxing and spending.  This is, in fact, a demonstration as to why that is a bad idea.  

Back to the study I cited above.  Perhaps you would do well to read it before you criticize it as overly pseudo-precise.  It attempts to account for all “values” provided by government.  If you have a specific criticism after reading the study then I would be willing to hear your critique, but you guessing about that which is included in their formal analysis isn’t even worth discussing.

I think you misread every one of my posts or mistyped your “$0.41 for every $10 paid.”  It is actually 41 cents for every 1 dollar paid…as stated in multiple places above.  Which is still terrible, but for the sake of clarity I wanted to correct your understanding of the study.

And finally we have come full circle…because you: 
1) will not acknowledge that value received should be related to price paid.
2) don’t understand that if you allow people to receive more than that for which they are paying because it is being subsidized by someone else they will continue to demand more of it.
3) will only consider raising taxes of the “rich” as a solution regardless as to the problem.

The “simplest and most fair solution” would be to stop taking my money and giving it to other people.  To stop incurring additional debt in my name without my consent.  

To stop incurring additional debt in the name of the yet to exist without their consent.  “Taxation without representation” was a cause for revolt.  In no way can you consider assigning debt to the unborn anything other than “taxation without representation”, because you must necessarily tax those people to pay for our current “benefit.”  This is known as a ponzi scheme.

 Your solution to right this wrong is to make a small percentage of individuals pay for even more services for a society and decrease their use of services for which they pay.  This you call moral…this you call simple and fair. 

And finally, society and government are not the same.  Society is a voluntary association with common goals.  Government is not necessary to make society function.  You stating that society is a non-zero sum enterprise is correct.  The assumption that government redistribution of wealth among the members is necessary to keep society together is asinine.  

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Greg Hunter September 3, 2011 at 11:44 am

“Society is a voluntary association with common goals.  Government is not necessary to make society function.”

Really?  I mean that is a very Utopian statement…..of course the free market discourse is so Utopian it borders on willful ignorance…..Because there will never be a true free market – free marketers will always have an out….”Well this part of the system had regulations that impacted this part therefore it was not free…” BS.

I will chose Cod……Wide Ocean, no regulation, no Cod left….It was a “Free For All Market”  I am sorry but sound Government Policies based on Science are What is Required for Society to Function.  The reason is that most people are only for instant gratification, so we, as a society, should try to “check” that natural tendency.

Tax incentives that achieve that goal are “good” in my opinion.  Tax incentives that do not achieve that goal are poor.  So I agree that providing society with tax breaks for having kids, buying gas guzzling cars and houses are POOR.  While taxing petroleum (which we do not have or produce) or imported products from Societies that do not adhere to our standards is Good.

“The “simplest and most fair solution” would be to stop taking my money and giving it to other people.  To stop incurring additional debt in my name without my consent.”

I guess you do not believe in THIS SOCIETY!  THE USA.  Its called a Democratic Republic and its Foundation is Representative Government!  Like it or not that is it.  If you vote then you are to blame or take credit as your REPRESENTATIVE casts the lot by your continued support.  If you do not like that then Revolt or Move to a Free Market Utopia….. :)

Now could we make Representative Government better…..Hell Yes, for starters go back to the Framers Original Intent for Voting for our National Representatives.  Then society has a lot less choices, but the choices are very Weighty and would allow a great scrutiny of the Candidates and we would get rid of them alot sooner.

No voting for President.
No Voting for Senators.

National Elections are decided by 2 votes by the Public

Congressman
Governor – Who appoints the two senators.

Believe Me there would be higher turnover than there is now! 

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Gary September 3, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Good debate fellas … Now that Warren has invested heavily in Bank of America, the Feds are now suing those big bankers for pawning off their degenerate mortgages on the Fannie and Freddie little boys.  So what comes around goes around.
I’ve lost all hope in the Feds and am currently letting Jesus guide my way to a job, but I still do my part looking.  If Jesus were alive today, I wonder what his suggestions would be for Obama and his cabinet to stabilize the economy?

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bobby September 3, 2011 at 8:26 pm

David Esrati, Time for Warren Buffet to walk his  talk – He certainly has.
 
Reuters- August 26,2011

“Billionaire investor and philanthropist Warren Buffet will boost President Obama’s re-election bid next month by appearing at a New York fundraiser that will charge as much as $38,500 per guest, the Obama campaign said on Thursday.
 The Sept. 30, fundraiser, billed as an Economic Forum Dinner and Discussion with Warren Buffet,  signals the Berkshire Hathaway Inc. chairman’s support for the Democratic incumbent. Obama spoke with the ‘Oracle of Omaha”for advice on Monday on how to                          
invigorate the US economy and spur job creation, a linchpin for Obama’s re-election prospects.”
 The Boyles Simpson Plan, a product of the fiscal commission created by President Obama, was to be a fiscal blueprint to solve the long term economic problems facing the US. The plan called for simplification of the tax code, reduced entitlements, reductions in military spending, and elimination of tax loopholes. Unfortunately this is not a platform that an incumbent can be re-elected with. Instead, he can point to raising taxes on the rich as his billionaire shill legitizes it’s fairness. The rest of the bad news can wait until after the election.
  Some of the super wealthy may be willing to project fairness and a willingness to pay more taxes, but they would scream bloody murder if there was meaningful campaign finance reform that eliminated their ability to control outcomes in this country.  
  P.S.  Henry Bloch made his fortune off of the 3.8 million word tax code.   

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Greg Hunter September 3, 2011 at 9:31 pm

The Ultimate Insider!

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Jesse September 11, 2011 at 10:49 am

Greg, read some rothbard. I don’t want to take the time to point out all of the ignorance you display in the above post but indicating that you don’t understand basic concepts like property rights and the contradiction in the statement that I don’t like this society which has transitioned from one of the smallest governments on earth (govt spending of less than 3% of GDP 110 years ago) to the biggest government in the history of the planet today. It is policies like the ones you advocate that have facilitates the transition from a small, relatively rights repecting government to the behemoth that cripples us today. It is your desire for a benthemite, “scientific” analysis of government that has stripped all reason and ethic that this structure once contained. I don’t need to revolt. Your society will crumble around you and it will be up to individuals to rebuild it. I only hope that enough people who understand that the individual is the only important being in a society can find one another, codify the natural rights of man in a language so clear that even statists like you can’t morph the meaning like you did with the constitution.

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Bubba Jones September 21, 2011 at 9:53 am

“But until those utopian ideals become actual policy, I continue to insist that the wealthy are paying lower overall tax rates than anyone posting here.” – truddick
 
Insist again, Professor.  Even the AP disagrees with you….
http://news.yahoo.com/fact-check-rich-taxed-less-secretaries-070642868.html
 
And the IRS data (cited in the article) supports their conclusion.

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John Ise September 21, 2011 at 2:14 pm

The IRS report shows that in 2008 (the latest year for which data are available), the 400 richest income tax filers paid just 18.1 percent of their adjusted gross income (AGI) in federal income taxes.
That is down from 22.3 percent in 2000.

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joe_mamma September 21, 2011 at 2:58 pm

“The IRS report shows that in 2008 (the latest year for which data are available), the 400 richest income tax filers paid just 18.1 percent of their adjusted gross income (AGI) in federal income taxes.
That is down from 22.3 percent in 2000.” – john ise

Makes sense.  Long-Term capital gains rate in 2000 was 20%.  Since 2003 it’s been 15%.

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John Ise September 21, 2011 at 4:11 pm

From Timothy Noah that sets this whole tax debate in proper perspective:

The top 10 percent pays nearly 70 percent of all income taxes because the top 10 percent makes half the income–49.74 percent, including capital gains, before the recession and only slightly less now. (My source is the World Top Incomes Database, a fantastic Web resource put together by Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, Facundo Alvaredo and Tony Atkinson. Share it with the class warrior in your life.) The relevant statistic isn’t what proportion of the nation’s taxes comes from the rich. It’s what proportion of the rich’s income gets paid in taxes. 

…reports do say people in the richest 1 percent pay 31 percent of their income in taxes to the federal government. Boo hoo. What isn’t said is that back in 1979, on the eve of the Reagan revolution, the richest 1 percent paid 37 percent of their income in taxes to the federal government, even though its share of the nation’s income was much lower than it is now (34 percent, including capital gains). Effective tax rates on top earners didn’t change as much as many people think during the past 30 years, but they did go down (except for a brief uptick in the early Clinton years). For the very richest Americans, the drop was more precipitous. As recently as 2000 the 400 richest Americans paid 22.3 percent of their adjusted gross income in federal taxes. In 2008 (the last year for which data are available) they paid 18.1 percent. Again, this occurred while their income share was going up, not down.
Obama isn’t even talking about making the rich pay a higher proportion of their income than the middle class in taxes. God forbid! He’s merely saying (with his proposed “Buffet Rule”) that the rich shouldn’t get away with paying a smaller proportion. … Have our politics really reached the point where the president must turn a deaf ear to a billionaire (not a “millionaire”) who suggests that he shouldn’t be paying proportionally less in taxes than his secretary? Jeez, demagoguery ain’t what it used to be.

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Bubba Jones September 21, 2011 at 6:29 pm

Well, John Ise, for once you and I are in agreement.  You and I think that the rich should pay the SAME PROPORTION OF THEIR INCOME as the “not so rich”.  So, instead of relying on figures from your buddy, Timothy Noah, how ’bout we take figures from the IRS?  Sound reasonable so far?
 
So, from the article that I cited above (which you probably didn’t read because you can’t hand reading something that says that the rich are evil and putrid), here’s what the IRS has to say….
The latest IRS figures are a few years older — and limited to federal income taxes — but show much the same thing. In 2009, taxpayers who made $1 million or more paid on average 24.4 percent of their income in federal income taxes, according to the IRS.
Those making $100,000 to $125,000 paid on average 9.9 percent in federal income taxes. Those making $50,000 to $60,000 paid an average of 6.3 percent.
 
So, in John Ise’s world the rich are PAYING TOO MUCH because they’re paying approximately 4 times as much of their income (24.4%) in income taxes than the “not so rich” (paying merely 6.3% of their income in income taxes).  THANKS John for finally coming to your senses!!!  You are now realizing that the premise upon which our dear ruler’s proposed “Buffet Rule” is total BS, right?


Another nice little statistic not mentioned in the article is that somewhere in the neighborhood of 45%-50% of all wage earners pay NO FEDERAL INCOME TAXES!!  So, John, what we have is a society in which 50% of the income earners pay 100% of all of the taxes.  Do you think that’s “fair”?  If so, explain in YOUR OWN WORDS how you think that’s fair.  I’m eagerly waiting for your explanation as I good use a good chuckle.


One other neat little factoid not mentioned in this thread is that Warren Buffet’s company, Berkshire Hathaway, is currently battling the IRS over it’s 2007 (I think that’s the year) tax bill.  The IRS is questioning some items on the return and wants the company to pay a higher tax bill.  For some reason, Berkshire Hathaway thinks that the return as filed is correct and is contesting the IRS.  If ol’ Warren really thought that he (being the primary shareholder) wasn’t paying enough, don’t you think that he’d tell the CFO just to cut the check??? 

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joe_mamma September 22, 2011 at 7:52 am

“The relevant statistic isn’t what proportion of the nation’s taxes comes from the rich. It’s what proportion of the rich’s income gets paid in taxes.” John Ise

That’s the relevant statistic if you view the tax code primarily as a social engineering tool to equalize outcomes.  Thats (insert “scare” word here).

Obama isn’t even talking about making the rich pay a higher proportion of their income than the middle class in taxes. God forbid! He’s merely saying (with his proposed “Buffet Rule”) that the rich shouldn’t get away with paying a smaller proportion. – John Ise

Unless something has changed the last day or so then he is just proposing the same old things he has been proposing: changing how deductions are treated from high earners, changing the treatment of carried interest income accrued from cap. gains, raising the marginal income tax rates on those earning more than 250K.   None of these accomplish what Obama is saying.  If these changes passed Warren Buffet would still have a lower tax rate than his secretary.

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Bubba Jones September 22, 2011 at 9:30 am

Here’s another little article for you to digest, John Ise…..
 
Also, an edit to my post above….
So, from the article that I cited above (which you probably didn’t read because you can’t hand reading something that says that the rich are evil and putrid)


Should have said…
So, from the article that I cited above (which you probably didn’t read because you can’t handle reading something that says that the rich aren’t evil and putrid)


I got a little fat fingered on the ol’ keyboard.

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John Ise September 22, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Bubba & Joe.  Let’s turn down the volume on the snarky comments.  As to Bubba’s claim that 50% of the population don’t pay Federal income taxes, I’ll let Ezra Klein explain:
  … In 2011, about 46 percent of households won’t pay income taxes. For about half of them, the standard provisions of the income tax wiped out their liability. If you don’t make any money but you take a standard deduction and have a few dependents, you’re not going to pay any income tax. An example is a couple with two children earning less than $26,400. They get an $11,600 standard deduction and four exemptions of $3,700, and that takes their liability to zero. As he says, “the basic structure of the income tax simply exempts subsistence levels of income from tax.”
For the other half, various tax expenditures wipe out their liabilities. Elderly tax benefits are the biggest player here. They get an extra standard deduction, an exemption for some Social Security benefits, and more. Then come various tax credits for children — for instance, the Child Tax Credit in the Bush tax cuts — and the working poor. And then come a lot of smaller credits that you can read about in the reports. But the basic story here is that once you’ve added together the standard features of the tax code and the tax expenditures for the elderly, poor and young, you’ve explained almost everyone who doesn’t pay taxes.
I’ll also point out that in the 1950s, the top tax bracket was 90%, in the 60s it was 70%, in the 80s it was 50% and today it’s close to an international low of 33%.  Meanwhile there’s been an explosion of wealth accrued to the top 10% of the population (in part thanks to globalization and technology but in part to our tax system) while the rest of the population stagnats or falls behind.  It also should be noted that during those decades earlier, the economy hummed along at near full-employment.  

Lookit, I don’t like taxes, and our tax code even less.  A simplified, flatter system might make sense (try filing your own taxes without an accountant).  But I’ll never endorse it in context of let’s make our system more regressive while simultaneously shredding our social safety net.   

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Gary September 22, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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Jesse September 23, 2011 at 10:23 am

John,

You posted a description explaining that 46% pay no income tax and then claim that people are trying to make it “more regressive”.  “More regressive” would be if those people pay any income tax at all.  They aren’t paying anything!  In order to make it less regressive (and not tax the rest of us more) you would have to just hand them money.  OH WAIT…
We find households in the lowest quintile of income received roughly $8.21 in federal, state and local government spending for every dollar of taxes paid in 2004, while households in the middle quintile received $1.30, and households in the top quintile received $0.41.

WE ALREADY DO THAT! 

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Jesse September 26, 2011 at 5:04 am

More regressive?  $8.21 in benefit for every dollar paid for the “poor” vs $0.41 for the “rich”. 

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joe_mamma September 26, 2011 at 8:03 am

“It also should be noted that during those decades earlier, the economy hummed along at near full-employment.  ” – John Ise

A great tidbit.  But if you think about it for more than a few seconds you’ll realize its a B.S. statistic.  The 70-00′s saw the workforce population explode as women went from being 30% of it to 45% of it.  The IRS tax codes of 50′s and 60′s were infinitely less complicated, other tax burdens were significantly less (Ohio income tax did not exist until 1972), federal minimum wage was relatively stable until the 70′s then it began to increase, regulatory burdens were less, there were not millions of illegal immigrants competing in the job market etc….  In short you can’t make a lazy comparison like that when you are talking about the most complicated and dynamic economy in the world….nevermind that the unemployment rate prior to the recession (2007) was 4.6% (basically full employment).

“…while the rest of the population stagnats or falls behind. ” – John Ise

Nonsense.  Inequalities in standards of living in the U.S. are shrinking. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9x7hSu6ZjA4

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