During her July 19 Post Politics Hour discussion on washingtonpost.com, in response to a reader who asked why "so many wealthy people -- from Warrren [sic] Buffett at the top to Hollywood moguls and Silicon Valley entrepeneurs" are Democrats, given that "if the Democrats take control of the White House, taxes -- at least for the very rich -- will be raised," Washington Post national political reporter Lois Romano asserted: "The people you mention are more liberal on the social issues, and must feel overall Democrats will take the country in a better direction." Romano continued: "Hollywood types have long favored Democrats because of the party's position on abortion, gay rights etc." In fact, Buffett, chairman and CEO of the investment group Berkshire Hathaway and reportedly the third-richest man in the world, has given a specific reason for supporting Democratic candidates, which Romano did not mention: He favors a more equitable taxation system.
In a June 28 article on Buffett's speech at a fundraiser for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), British newspaper The Times reported that he "criticised the US tax system for allowing him to pay a lower rate than his secretary and his cleaner." From the report:
Speaking at a $4,600-a-seat fundraiser in New York for Senator Hillary Clinton, Mr Buffett, who is worth an estimated $52 billion (£26 billion), said: "The 400 of us [here] pay a lower part of our income in taxes than our receptionists do, or our cleaning ladies, for that matter. If you're in the luckiest 1 per cent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 per cent."
Mr Buffett said that he was taxed at 17.7 per cent on the $46 million he made last year, without trying to avoid paying higher taxes, while his secretary, who earned $60,000, was taxed at 30 per cent.
Mr Buffett, who runs the investment group Berkshire Hathaway and is widely regarded as the world's most successful investor, said that he was a Democrat because Republicans are more likely to think: "I'm making $80 million a year -- God must have intended me to have a lower tax rate."
Mr Buffett said that a Republican proposal to eliminate elements of inheritance tax, which raises about $30 billion a year from the assets of about 12,000 rich families, would broaden the disparity between rich and poor. He added that the Republicans would seek to recover lost revenue by increasing taxes for the less prosperous.
He said: "You could take that $30 billion and give $1,000 to 30 million poor families. Or should you favour the 12,000 estates and make 30 million families pay an extra $1,000?"
The Times also reported that Lloyd Blankfein, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, said that he would be supporting a Democratic candidate for president, and had claimed in an interview that "he worried that income inequality was 'poisoning democracy.' "
Later in the washingtonpost.com discussion, a reader objected to Romano's suggestion that wealthy Democrats support the party due solely to their views on social issues: "[S]ure, social issues play a role, but you overlook the fact that some wealthy people actually believe it's only fair for them to be taxed at a higher rate than they currently are." The reader also asserted that wealthy Democrats "may in fact think the country would be better off with more economic equality." Romano replied: "well said. thanks."
From washingtonpost.com's July 19 Post Politics Hour discussion:
Floris, Va.: Lois: First, on behalf of all chatters, best wishes to your colleague, Lyndsey Layton on her impending bundle of joy! Here's a broad question I've always wondered about ... it's almost a given that if the Democrats take control of the White House, taxes -- at least for the very rich -- will be raised. So why are so many wealthy people -- from Warrren [sic] Buffett at the top to Hollywood moguls and Silicon Valley entrepeneurs and even Wall Street types like Robert Rubin, for example -- Democrats?
Lois Romano: The people you mention are more liberal on the social issues, and must feel overall Democrats will take the country in a better direction. Hollywood types have long favored Democrats because of the party's position on abortion, gay rights etc[.]
London: Re: Wealthy Democrats -- sure, social issues play a role, but you overlook the fact that some wealthy people actually believe it's only fair for them to be taxed at a higher rate than they currently are. After all, they benefit most from the stock market and corporate tax breaks/shelters, and they may in fact think the country would be better off with more economic equality. (Bill Clinton makes this point a lot.) Why is the assumption always that all the rich don't care about the poor?
Lois Romano: well said. thanks.