Warren Buffett Not So Keen On ‘Buffett Rule’

by Andrew Stiles

Billionaire financier Warren Buffett, who lent his name to the “Buffett Rule,” a key element of President Obama’s plan to pay for his $450 million jobs bill, said on CNBC this morning that he doesn’t exactly endorse the rule as proposed. From the transcript:

Andrew Ross Sorkin: Are you happy with the way is the program that the white house has presented your program?

Warren Buffett: Well, the precise program, I don’t know what their program will be. my program would be on the very high incomes that are taxed very low — not just high incomes. Some guy making $50 million a year playing baseball, his taxes won’t change. Make $50 million appearing on television, that income won’t change, but if they make a lot of money and pay a low tax rate, like me, it would be changed by a minimum tax that would only bring them up to what the other people pay.

Sorkin: Does that mean you disagree with the president’s new jobs proposal which would be paid for by raising taxes on households with incomes of over $250,000?

Buffett: That’s another program that I won’t be discussing. My program is to have a tax on ultra-rich people who are paying very low tax rates. Not just all the rich people. And it probably would apply for 50,000 people in a population of 300 million.

Sorkin: That means you disagree with the president on the $250,000?

Buffett: No, no, you may disagree…

Sorkin: I’m asking, you agree that $250,000 is the right number?

Buffett: I will look at the overall plan that gets submitted to congress and decide, net, do I like it or do I not like it? There’s no question there will be parts I’ll disagree with.

The “Buffett Rule,” as outlined in the president’s plan, states that “no household making over $1 million annually should pay a smaller share of its income in taxes than middle-class families pay,” the White House has repeatedly refused to offer any specifics about how the tax will be imposed. Buffett said today that “his plan” would only apply only to the “ultra-rich,” or about 50,000 people in the country, “not just all the rich people.” Obama, on the other hands, wants to raise taxes on people making more than $1 million a year. According to federal tax returns filed in 2009, millionaire households totaled nearly 240,000. In other words, get ready for class warfare ad minutiae.

Here’s the video:

Buffett was also asked what he thought of the president’s jobs bill — the American Jobs Act — in its entirety. His response was hardly enthusiastic: