GUEST EDITORIAL: Washington should listen to Buffett’s plea for shared sacrifice

The following editorial was published in the Aug. 16 edition of the San Jose Mercury News:

Billionaire Warren Buffett’s op-ed piece in the New York Times on Monday provided a neat bookend to Thursday’s Republican presidential debate. Every last one of the contenders in that debate pledged they would never agree to raise taxes, even if $1 trillion in revenue were accompanied by $10 trillion in spending cuts. But here is Buffett, among the richest of the rich, advocating higher taxes on those making $1 million or more a year.

The contrast neatly captures the difference between sane, realistic thinking and the policies being promulgated by the tea party.

Buffett, whose $45 billion fortune ranks him second on Forbes’ list of richest Americans, is perfectly positioned to counter the destructive notion that taxes can never be raised, even when they’re at historic lows, as they are today.

Buffett and Bill Gates have gotten dozens of the uber-rich — including Larry Ellison and Mark Zuckerberg — to sign The Giving Pledge, a commitment to donate the bulk of their fortunes rather than passing them down.

Why not launch a similar campaign to get their wealthy friends to urge Washington to adopt a more fair tax system? And this is about fairness, not soaking the rich. Buffett criticizes Congress for protecting billionaires “much as if we were spotted owls.”

Conservatives suggest Buffett should give his own money to the government but not compel others to do so. That would be no solution; Buffett’s entire fortune would cover less than 5 percent of this year’s deficit. What we need is a sensible system of taxation. Buffett isn’t simply arguing that the rich can afford to pay more. Of course they can. He’s saying that the poor and middle class have suffered disproportionately, through their military service and the Great Recession. He ends his piece by saying that it’s time for the wealthiest to share the sacrifice made by less-fortunate Americans.

Well? Isn’t it?

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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