warren buffet astrid getty Warren Buffet's New York Times op ed: Government should stop coddling the mega richWarren Buffet (pictured above with wife Astrid) started out simple businessman from Nebraska and has become the third richest person in the world largely through his investment decisions. He wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times Monday (Aug. 15) wherein he tells the government to stop coddling the super-rich like himself.

Buffet writes:

Our leaders have asked for “shared sacrifice.” But when
they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends
to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched.

While
the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most
Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our
extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn
billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as
“carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate.
Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of
their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.

These
and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington
who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or
some other endangered species. It’s nice to have friends in high places.

Last
year my federal tax bill – the income tax I paid, as well as payroll
taxes paid by me and on my behalf – was $6,938,744. That sounds like a
lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income
– and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the
other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent
to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.

If you make
money with money, as some of my super-rich friends do, your percentage
may be a bit lower than mine. But if you earn money from a job, your
percentage will surely exceed mine – most likely by a lot.

Twelve members of Congress will soon take on the crucial
job of rearranging our country’s finances. They’ve been instructed to
devise a plan that reduces the 10-year deficit by at least $1.5
trillion. It’s vital, however, that they achieve far more than that.
Americans are rapidly losing faith in the ability of Congress to deal
with our country’s fiscal problems. Only action that is immediate, real
and very substantial will prevent that doubt from morphing into
hopelessness. That feeling can create its own reality.

Job
one for the 12 is to pare down some future promises that even a rich
America can’t fulfill. Big money must be saved here. The 12 should then
turn to the issue of revenues. I would leave rates for 99.7 percent of
taxpayers unchanged and continue the current 2-percentage-point
reduction in the employee contribution to the payroll tax. This cut
helps the poor and the middle class, who need every break they can get.

But
for those making more than $1 million – there were 236,883 such
households in 2009 – I would raise rates immediately on taxable income
in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital
gains. And for those who make $10 million or more – there were 8,274 in
2009 – I would suggest an additional increase in rate.

My
friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly
Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared
sacrifice.

You can read the full op-ed piece here.