Newly elected congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is using billionaire Warren Buffett‘s statements on taxation as ammunition in her battle for a fair graduated federal tax rate. Ocasio-Cortez believes that “conscientious people of all incomes want a fair society.” (More on this below.*) And she finds a kindred spirit in Buffett, unlikely as it may seem at first — since Ocasio-Cortez’s political leanings veer to the left, and Mr. Buffett is practically the dictionary portrait of capitalist. But Buffett has frequently spoken about the tax code being too far in his favor — and unnecessarily so. (Ocasio-Cortez is evidently thinking of Buffett when she says “conscientious.”)
Buffett has noted the preposterous fact that even as the country’s second or third richest man, he probably pays the lowest tax rate of anyone at his company, Berkshire Hathaway. Famously, during the Obama administration, Buffett revealed his secretary paid a higher tax rate that he did. And last year as the GOP pushed through a big tax cut that favored the wealthy as much (or more) than anyone else, Buffett said “I don’t think I need a tax cut.”
*There is, of course, little proof for Ocasio-Cortez’s claim about the widespread demand for a fair society: plenty of people of all income levels — from the bottom rung to the very top — have historically demonstrated greater interest in a system that privileges their own needs over the Utopian “fair society.” But optimism that stops shy of naivete has been a force for good over time, and Ocasio-Cortez is practicing it. Note to remember: the 29-year-old lawmaker hasn’t yet taken her seat in Washington.
Taxes should respect a person’s station in life, including working people + parents. It’s ludicrous that we tax Warren Buffet’s secretary more than we tax him – and he has said as much.
Sensible + conscientious people of all incomes want a fair society. https://t.co/uz0uFDT2K1
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) December 4, 2018