Brewtown Politico

Carrying a little stick and speaking loudly in Milwaukee

6.26.2006

Buffett on the estate tax

Since billionaire Warren Buffett is in the news for his decision to give the bulk of his wealth to charity, let's revisit his opposition to the repeal of the estate tax. Congress debated it shortly after George W. Bush took office, and Buffett along with Bill Gates Sr., David Rockefeller Sr., and others voiced their opposition to the repeal.

Estate tax repeal, Buffett says, "would be a terrible mistake," comparable to "choosing the 2020 Olympic team by picking the eldest sons of the gold-medal winners in the 2000 Olympics. We would consider that as absolute folly in terms of athletic competition.

"We have come closer to a true meritocracy than anywhere else around the world," Buffett continued. "You have mobility, so people with talents can be put to the best use. Without the estate tax, you in effect will have an aristocracy of wealth, which means you pass down the ability to command the resources of the nation based on heredity rather than merit."

If only the Democrats could be as eloquent on the issue.

8 Comments:

At 6/26/2006 10:30:00 PM, Blogger Dean said...

And do you actually think these folks will actually pay the estate tax? Why do you think they set up their foundations?

Watch what they do.

 
At 6/26/2006 10:46:00 PM, Blogger Scott said...

I think that goes to Buffett's point about keeping America from becoming the aristocracy he fears. Either the estate tax is paid by him, or the money is passed on to these foundations that provide a social benefit. I certainly won't say the act is free of self interest though.

There's another good article on this topic by former Labor secretary Robert Reich. In it, Reich points out that the earnings of workers used to rise with gains in productivity. These days, while we're 24% more productive than five years ago, earnings are stagnant.

 
At 6/26/2006 11:15:00 PM, Anonymous Ben said...

In fact Americans between the ages of 18 and 35 are making 8% less than they were just 5 years ago adjusted for inflation. Thirty-five to 44, nine percent less.

It was Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold that proposed an ammendment excluding any estate under $100M and yet the GOP still insists on marketing the tax as against family farms, the average of which rarely exceeds $10M.

A total of 575 families nationwide would be affected by the estate tax, people who will otherwise never spend a dime on the country in which they've made, or rather inherited, so much and yet the right still enjoy broad support.

 
At 6/27/2006 09:25:00 PM, Blogger Dean said...

Only 575 families? Why are we wasting our time on this then?

 
At 6/28/2006 09:09:00 AM, Anonymous Ben said...

Do you know how much money that is?

And they and their families got that money in a country for which they don't pay.

This one time in their lives they can pay income tax. If for no other reason than the principle. Some of the richest people in the country, including Warren Buffet, agree.

Not that I don't like your comb-over but I think I'll take his opinion over yours.

 
At 6/28/2006 11:46:00 AM, Anonymous Ben said...

To make it even clearer, if we have no inheritance tax, our income tax ceases being an Income Tax and becomes a Salary Tax.

Which means the income tax burden of the US is hoisted entirely on those whom HAVE to work to live.

The rich get richer and the working middle class pays for everything from beans to bullets.

 
At 6/28/2006 08:10:00 PM, Blogger Dean said...

But they aren't going to pay any inheritance tax. That's why Buffet's giving his away.

 
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