Billionaire Warren Buffett’s call to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans has led to a predictable response from Republicans, who think Buffet should just “write a check” if he wants to pay more in taxes. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has repeatedly urged Buffett to do so, and last week, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) went farther, calling on Buffett to “write a check and shut up.”
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who introduced legislation containing a version of the Buffett Rule, slammed Republicans like Christie and McConnell today, saying that their “write a check” defense the tax code makes taxes “optional” for the wealthy, allowing them to “decide whether or not” they have to pay taxes:
WALDRON: Chris Christie, Mitch McConnell, a couple of the others have criticized Warren Buffett over the last couple weeks and said, you know, if he’s so disappointed he should just write a check.
WHITEHOUSE: You gotta love this idea that if you’re rich enough, the tax code becomes optional for you and you decide whether or not you’re going to write a check. You’re in a special category of people who doesn’t actually have to pay taxes, they just kind of get to if they feel like it. Let’s just say I haven’t heard them say that about working families.
Republicans like McConnell and Christie have done their part to make taxes on the wealthy as optional as possible. Despite the fact that the wealthiest Americans have seen their tax rates plummet even as their income rises, McConnell and his Republican colleagues have fought attempts to end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy or to close loopholes that primarily benefit the rich. Christie, for his part, recently released a tax plan that would give 40 percent of its benefits to New Jersey’s richest one percent.
Buffett, meanwhile, has offered to write a check — as soon as Republicans do too. In January, he told Time Magazine he’d match any voluntary contribution made by Republicans. “I’ll even go three-to-one for McConnell,” Buffett said. So far, he has had to match only one Republican.