Last week, billionaire investor Warren Buffett urged Congress “to maintain the estate tax, saying that plans to repeal the tax would benefit a handful of the richest American families and widen income disparity in the United States.” The New York Times reported:
Mr. Buffett said that in the last 20 years, tax laws have allowed the “superrich” to become richer.
“Tax law changes have benefited this group, including me, in a huge way,” he said. “During that time the average American went exactly nowhere on the economic scale: he’s been on a treadmill while the superrich have been on a spaceship.”
Less than 1 percent of the nation’s super-rich pay the estate tax. “For this year, individual estates valued at more than $2 million are taxed at a top rate of 45 percent.” Buffet — who pays the estate tax — argued, “A progressive and meaningful estate tax is needed to curb the movement of a democracy toward plutocracy.”
This weekend on Bloomberg Television, right-wing pundit Bob Novak fumed over Buffett’s altruistic testimony, attacking him as a hypocrite who “should be ashamed of himself for putting out that phony message.” Bloomberg’s Al Hunt responded, “Bob, there’s only two differences between you and Warren Buffett: $40 billion and a conscience.” Watch it:
HUNT: Warren Buffett came out this week for keeping the estate tax. Were you impressed by that selflessness?
NOVAK: Well that’s ridiculous. He’s going to protect himself and his heirs. That is the biggest hypocrisy in the world. And people who like high taxes just latch onto him. But he should be ashamed of himself by putting out that phony message.
HUNT: Bob, there’s only two differences between you and Warren Buffett: $40 billion and a conscience.
NOVAK: I have a conscience?