Rep. Steve King to Warren Buffett: Live By Your Own Rule

April 18, 2012 - 6:58 PM

Rep. Steve King

Rep. Steve King (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

(CNSNews.com) – A  conservative Republican congressman from Iowa called on investor Warren Buffett Tuesday to not only pay all of his own taxes, but to keep contributing to the government until he reaches the level advocated by his own “rule.”

“Now I’m here today to say, pay all your taxes, Warren Buffett -- and if you think you don’t pay enough in taxes, just write another check to the federal government and get it up to the place it ought to be.” Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) told CNSNews.com Tuesday outside the U.S. Capitol.

The “Buffett Rule” is a proposal to impose a minimum 30 percent tax rate on Americans whose annual household income is $1 million or more.

The rule is named for Buffett, the billionaire CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, who, in 2011, said he thought that wealthy taxpayers should not pay less in federal taxes, as a portion of income, than middle class taxpayers – and that he shouldn’t be allowed to pay less in taxes as a portion of income, than his secretary.

Buffett Investments

FILE - In this Nov. 21, 2011 file photo, U.S. billionaire investor Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway speaks during a news conference in northern Japan. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama, File)

King said he doesn't think Buffett has lived up to the Buffett proposal.

“If Warren Buffet won’t voluntarily live by the Buffett Rule, then how can the president demand that all of us live by a rule that Warren Buffett won’t voluntarily live by?” King asked.

“We should say this, that Warren Buffett takes advantage of the tax system in order to end up with a lower tax rate than his secretary has,” King said.

“He has a lower rate, it doesn’t mean he pays less in taxes. I don’t actually know what Buffett paid in taxes, but it is reported in the news that he’s got close to a billion dollar dispute with the IRS.”

In March, the IRS filed suit in U.S. District Court in Columbus, Ohio, against NetJets, a division of Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, seeking $366 million in taxes and penalties. In court documents, the government asserts that NetJets “failed, neglected or refused to pay” excise taxes and related penalties between 2003 and 2009.

Five months earlier, in November of 2011, NetJets had filed a lawsuit against the federal government for $642.7 million, claiming that the IRS had wrongly imposed a “ticket tax” on the private airline.

King, meanwhile, said that the Buffett Rule is just a political ploy.

“We need to look at what actually can transform America in a positive direction,” King said “It’s not going to be a Keynesian economist on steroids that’s maneuvering himself to play the class envy card in order to get re-elected. That’s what the Buffett Rule is about.”

King’s comments came after he finished speaking at a press conference in favor of the Fair Tax, a tax that would replace all income and corporate taxes with a single rate nation wide consumption tax.

CNSNews.com asked King if he thought President Obama would support the Fair Tax given his message of being fair and fair-share.

“No I don’t think so,” King said. “I think fairness means something entirely different to Barack Obama and that, he keeps playing the class envy card, he divides people down on the lines of race, on the lines of economics and he’s creating this envy society, an envy society and a dependency society where people press their grievances against government and ask government to go out and broker the differences between the success, and levels of success of Americans.”

“It’s never been that way. This is an equal opportunity society, not an equal results society and if government is going to level the -- the difference in the -- our standards of living, then why would anybody seek to succeed? It diminishes our productivity as a people to have that kind of an attitude and to have that attitude in the White House, that’s what’s gotta change.”

On Monday, on a 51 to 45 vote, the Senate rejected a measure endorsed by President Obama to make the Buffett Rule a federal law.