Flaws and all, I'm glad he's in the White House.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Taxes on the Wealthy

Last night, I read this article in The New York Times about Warren Buffett. I don't know as much about him as I would like--although there's a new biography out about him, so perhaps I could start with that--but I do know he's spoken out in favor of the estate tax and against what he feels is an unfairly skewed tax system. Indeed, if this article can be believed, he thinks it's time to raise taxes on the wealthy:

To help pay for the rescue, the government should raise taxes on the wealthy, Mr. Buffett suggested. “I’m paying the lowest tax rate that I’ve ever paid in my life,” he said. “Now, that’s crazy.”

I understand that the issue of taxes is complicated, not just for reasons of economic theory but also for political and ideological reasons. I'm not in favor of higher taxes simply because I think the government needs to be purposefully big and because I resent others being wealthy. Yet, I do think taxes should go up, and they definitely will, because spending has gone up.

I do wonder, however, why Buffett is saying this with such ease. I doubt he's calling for a top marginal rate of seventy percent. Even this amateur realizes that would be probably be a disaster. But while Buffett is not an academic economist that specializes in tax policy, he certainly knows more about finance and economics than almost anyone outside of academia. Because he's saying that taxes should be raised the wealthy, I'm led to believe that it's not going to grind the economy to a halt, like some on the right would suggest. My guess is, if he felt something was going to be an incredible mistake, he would speak out against it.

I don't know if this a faulty logical appeal to authority. Perhaps it is. I just have to wonder if the Grover Norquist types of this world have poisioned the debate so thoroughly that an honest discussion of tax policy is really possible.


Mrniceguy11717 said...

Well, to be quite honest, sometimes it takes a crazy man to make people realize the truth that has been in front of their faces all of this time. What I mean is simply, you need one Maverick, one loony toon, to spout out the obvious. We as a society dony\t react till something explodes. Unfortunatelly it seems that the explosion is the economy and the blast zone is so widespread that even the wealthy have had to realize that the times are a changin.

Brian J said...

I understand what you're saying, but Buffett, as far as I can tell, has been like this for years. Google that story that he's told about his secretary paying much more of her income in taxes than he's paying, for instance.

I guess the point of my article is that relatively small increases in tax rates aren't the end-all that some on the right like to pretend they are and that a big part of the issue is your ideology and values.