April 25, 2012, - 3:11 pm

HYPOCRITE: Warren Buffett Spent $1 Milln to Lobby for Less Taxes

By Debbie Schlussel

Apparently, billionaire Warren Buffett’s motto should be, “Do as I say, not as I do.”  As you know, for the last several years Buffett has been whining that his secretary pays a higher tax rate than he does, and he’s been calling for more taxes on the rich.  But it turns out that, privately, Buffett has been seeking less taxes for the rich . . . especially the rich who have private planes.  And he got government fees reduced, saving the jet-set rich $83 million in government assessments. The victory reduced the amount of FAA funding borne by fat cats with private planes and increased the proportion paid by average travelers in the cattle sections of American commercial airliners.

“My Taxes Aren’t High Enough! Hey, My Private Jet Taxes Are Way Too High!”

NetJets Inc., the private-jet company owned by Mr. Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., spent more than $1 million over the past three years to lobby Congress to cut a user fee, benefiting the company’s well-heeled customers, who buy or lease shares in planes. The reduced fee, part of the recent Federal Aviation Administration bill that took effect earlier this month, will save customers of NetJets and other similar companies roughly $83 million over about four years, according to congressional estimates.

The lobbying victory comes as Mr. Obama and congressional Democrats are using Mr. Buffett’s comments to criticize the likely Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, who paid a relatively low federal tax rate of 13.9% for 2010. Last year, Mr. Buffett called it unfair that wealthy investors often face lower effective tax rates than their secretaries, largely because capital gains are taxed at lower rates than salaried income. . . .

Mr. Obama and Democrats in Congress have proposed a so-called Buffett Rule, which would require individuals earning more than $1 million a year to pay a tax rate of at least 30%. Last week, the Senate voted mostly along party lines to reject the plan.

The Buffett Rule has become a flashpoint in the broader debate over tax policy and an important election-year symbol in a race that features Mr. Romney, a former private-equity executive.

Just remember that the “Buffett Rule” has a secret corollary.

At issue is the government’s system to determine who pays fees that fund the FAA and the nation’s air-traffic control system. Commercial airlines, which shoulder the largest share, pay mostly through a 7.5% tax levied directly on customers when they buy tickets. Noncommercial fliers pay via a surtax based on fuel consumption.

NetJets and other similar companies had previously been considered commercial airlines for the purposes of the fees.

In recent years, some in Congress have sought to raise fees across the board to cover a greater share of the cost of a modernized air-traffic control system. The FAA estimates the new system could cost between $29 billion and $42 billion through 2025.

Under the bill in question, a routine piece of legislation that reauthorized the FAA, commercial airlines didn’t see any decrease in fees. NetJets, by contrast, won its bid to change its classification to a noncommercial airline and will end up paying less during the life of the provision, which expires in 2015.

NetJets said its goal was to rationalize how the industry is treated. Previously, the FAA and Internal Revenue Service had disagreed about whether such aviation should be considered commercial or noncommercial. NetJets is suing the IRS over fees its customers previously paid under the “commercial” classification.

The lobbying campaign on Capitol Hill was “intended to get a clarification so that the tax code is congruent,” said Bob Tanner, the company’s vice president for government affairs. “This was not to get a tax cut,” he said.

Huh? That’s exactly what it was–a tax cut for the rich at the same time as a tax increase for the poor, the very thing Warren Buffett keeps pretending he’s against.

The change effectively lowers the fees NetJets customers have to pay.

The Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’s official tax accounting wing, estimated the change would save owners of fractional airplanes a total of $83 million before expiring in late 2015. NetJets controls about 68% of the so-called fractional-jet business, the company said.

Critics of the provision say that the NetJets lobbying effort is another example of the problems with the way Washington works.

“There has been so much rhetoric about the tax code, yet NetJets can get a tax break in this bill,” said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan organization that criticizes what it considers excessive government spending.

So, what was that Warren Buffett was saying about how upset he is that the less fortunate–like his well-paid secretary–have to pay more in taxes than he does? Funny, how he doesn’t have the same attitude about how much average airline passengers have to pay versus what he and the private jet owners pay.

Don’t look for President Obama or anyone else to ever feature an average airline passenger in the House Gallery during the State of the Union address, though. We need to keep the space free to help Warren Buffett and other left-wing hypocrites whine about the capital gains tax.

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22 Responses

Buffett is more than a bit of a horse’s ass. His tax hikes will hurt upper middle class professionals more tha people like him. He advocates for tax hikes while his company (in which his own net worth is tied up) is avoiding about 1 BILLION dollars in taxes.

I dislike the man intensely.

Occam's Tool on April 25, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    Is this the same Warren Buffet, who owns most of Berkshire-Hathaway Inc., and who is against the Keystone pipe, and who would prefer that, the oil be transported in his Berkshire-Hathaway Inc. rail cars?

    If it is, I would say, he’s sure got one hell-of-a pile a money t’take to hell with’im, . . .

    PhillipGaley on April 26, 2012 at 10:22 am

Hi Debbie , I have a question for you and I hope I’m not offending you and I need you honest answer please. Do you consider each person who is Lebanese and from south lebanon is a bad person ?? You are a lawyer and intelligent person at the same time !! But don’t you think it’s unfair to classify all these people as terrorists and bad people ?? I’m just wondering because I’m Lebanese was born in south lebanon , been in the country for 30 years ( came here when I was 7 ) and I love this country as much as you do and as smarter of fact the majority of my friends are from Jewish descents . I need your honest reply please for my question . Thank you Debbie and I wish you more success and health to you and your family.

N: I consider anyone who supports Islamic terrorism–and that includes supporting Hezbollah–a bad person. Oh, and love the “my best friends are Jewish” BS. Gee, I haven’t heard that one before. DS

Nabil on April 25, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Nabil, NO DS doe not consider Lebanese people like yourself terrorist or bad people. As she said to you in her response, “I consider anyone who supports Islamic terrorism-and that includes supporting Hezbollah-a bad person.”! It’s that simple Nabil, anyone who supports islamic jihad are no good, she’s NOT attacking and bashing regular Lebanese people like yourself.

Now to the main topic, since Mr. Buffet has calling for a tax increase on wealthy and rich people, I think Warren Buffet himself should give his fair share to the National Treasury. And since Mr. Buffet is a wealthy person, he’ll be affected if taxes are increased, and let’s not forget that about 47%-50% of the population in this country currently doesn’t pay any income yearly tax, and that goes for GE, they haven’t paid any taxes in about three years!

“A nation is defined by its borders, language & culture!”

Sean R. on April 25, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    dear deb , i thank you for being honest when answering my question and let me stress the fact that i dont lie and there is no reason to lie to you , im just telling the truth to figure out how you look at lebanese people who were born in south lebanon . And im not BS ing you when i said my best friend that i hang out with 3-4 times a week is jewish , he’s a orthopedic surgeon and his last name is tisdale ( KNOWING HIM FOR MORE THAN 12 YEARS , we never ever talked about relegions ) not trying to kiss any one’s ass or make up lies , i think i have more connection than you personally . but hating people because they are lebanese is a disease that will destroy you at the end of the day . i cant say all jews are good ( look at madoff ) do you think by hurting your community he is a good person just because he is a jew . I think you should take the hate out of your heart towards all lebanese people debbie and only attack the extriemest , and trust me I dont need your money or your support to lie to you , i asked a question and still you looked at me like a lier for saying my best friend is a jew . thank you again for your reply and if you give me a chance to invite you to dearborn ( not the mosque because im christian ) and show you the good 99% of the good hard working people who only cares about their families and neighbours and dont give a shit about the whole middle east . btw , im a cardiologist and my practice in bloomfield hills and i got nothing but extreme respect from my jewish patients and friends . shaloom

    nabil on April 25, 2012 at 11:37 pm

    sean R , thanks soo much for the reply . debbie if you have a secure email you will be amazed by the people that we both know and i will give you permission to call them and ask about me . PS again im not asking for any favors or for you to pay my bills but i think you need to take a step forward and think about all the good people you attack on your blog . thank you and have a nice night

    nabil on April 25, 2012 at 11:45 pm

old warren made his money the old fashioned way he stole it from others who worked hard to make a successful business to pass on to their children who could not pay the death tax.in steps warren and buys the kids inheritance for back taxes which is why you never hear buffett talk about lowering death taxes for the little people.you can never trust a demorat.

BRUCE on April 25, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Considering the diction of his letter after being here 30 years, the friends of Jewish descent that he exceeds in intelligence must be in kindergarten.

Oh, wait — “smarter of fact” really means “as a matter of fact”.

How could this person be saying he’s smarter than anybody?

But on the subject matter of this post, liberals always tell us to do what they say, and not what they do. Since they are superior people, they are exempt from the rules that ordinary people like us must follow.

Little Al on April 25, 2012 at 5:40 pm

What doesn’t get covered much, is when Buffett made the endowment on Bill and Melinda Gates of all those billions, one of the conditions was that the trust not generate ANY TAXES.

If any taxes were to occur, then he would revoke the trust.

This was reported on several news broadcasts including Neal Cavuto.

Toby Flenderson on April 25, 2012 at 6:15 pm

Buffet loves to sanctimoniously pontificate on the colossal virtue of a confiscatory estate tax. However, he never mentions that he both sells death tax insurance, and delights
in the desperate firesales of family companies who could not
afford the huge premiums. He is nothing but a repulsive vulture.

Nicole on April 25, 2012 at 7:28 pm

Yup. A rich man is ready to raise taxes… as long as HE is the one who doesn’t have to pay them.

Warren Buffett could well afford the sacrifice. But for him, its kosher for the Little People to pay more in user fees and property taxes so he and his friends can keep that few extra billion in their pockets.

What’s nauseating is to hear the fraud campaign for a more equal society as long as some people more equal than others.

NormanF on April 25, 2012 at 7:32 pm

Obama & Buffet, someone has to be the front end. Two asses don’t make a horse.

“He is nothing but a repulsive vulture.”
Nicole on April 25, 2012 at 7:28 pm
My feelings exactly.

Rush Limbaugh called this man a ‘capitalist’. What a joke. The old vulture does not belong in the same class with the likes of real capitalists such as Thomas Edison or Felix Zandman (Vishay Intertechnology) and many others who actually provided jobs, products and services.

theShadow on April 25, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Warren Buffet is a classic example of crony capitalism. He benefits while everyone suiffers. I have heard of why Mr Buiffet is a not a vocal opponent of the death tax. This is another reason why I stop listening and reading the Motley Fool because of their ass kissing to this guy and how they gushed over his self made wealth. Plus the fact that Mr. Buffet likes to claim frugality with this modest home in Omaha, Nebraska is more of a reason I do not trust this guy.

I find it funny that I never hear the so-called 99% Occupy Wall Street ever say anything bad about this a**hole or the Nazi collaborator George Soros.

Mario on April 25, 2012 at 10:57 pm

I heard Berkshire Hathaway didn’t pay taxes for 10 years. But that’s the Democrats for you. They advocate tax hikes, but refuse to pay the taxes they already owe.

Rocky Lore on April 26, 2012 at 3:07 am


Do you support or oppose Hizbullah? How about the Muslim Brotherhood? If you are Lebanese, do you support attacks on Israel from Lebanon?

Do you support the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state, w/o having to take back Palis, who for 2 generations or more have lived outside Israel? Or do you support Jihadis who want to restore the status to what it was in 700AD? Do you support current Egyptian sabre rattling against Israel in the Sinai? How about Hamas, Islamic Jihad & Fatah?

You say that you’re a Lebanese Christian. Well, there have been Lebanese Christians of all stripes in Lebanon – there had been far sighted leaders like Bashir Gemayel and Samir Gaegae, who favored peace w/ Israel, and then there were Syrian stooges, like Michel Aoun and Elie Hobbeika, who did everything that they could to undermine Lebanese sovereignity. So which of the above did/do you support?

Another question – do you consider yourself an Arab? In the Middle East, a lot of Christians do happen to be ethnically Arab, and form what someone once described as Islamo-Christians. Essentially, Islamo-Christians are Arab Christians who demonstrate their loyalty to their Arab nationality by demonstrating loyalty to islam, since islam is the ultimate vehicle of Arab supremacy. All this can be strongly seen in Pali terretories, and to a lesser extent, in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, although anti-Semitism does run strong amongst the Copts and other Eastern Orthodox Christians in the region.

Infidel on April 26, 2012 at 4:21 am

On Warren Buffet, he’s a close friend to Bill Gates, and along w/ Bill Gates II (Gates’ father), used to advocate tax increases. Not surprisingly, he speaks of both sides of his mouth.

While Gates has at least been at the forefront of wealth creation wrt software, Buffet has only been getting rich in real estate – in other words, he hasn’t actually expanded the value of the American economy. So people should stop seeing him as a sort of messiah, since his only claim to greatness is being rich.

Infidel on April 26, 2012 at 4:26 am

Once again, DS provides highly relevant information that we find nowhere else. Let us see if conventional media or right wing media pick this up and give DS the credit she has earned by this outstanding research.

bobguzzardi on April 26, 2012 at 9:49 am

Taxes on capital gains and dividend is double taxation. It is all already taxed as corporate profits which has high a marginal tax rate. There is not such thing as dividend or capital gains in the Gross domestic product. There is only capital gains.

Buffet and Gates giving away 90% of their wealth away to third countries overpopulation is an economic disaster for the country. Investment capital is the mother milk of our economy. Giving up his stock to third world countries overpopulation group will mean this stock is sold. Reducing investment capital of USA. The start of treating capital gain and dividend the same as regular was dhimmi Treasury Secretary James Baker. Who was a bigger disaster as Secretary of State.

Reagan early in presidency noted that dividend was double taxation. Why he did not fire Baker when the 1986 tax changes appeared amazed me.

madman on April 26, 2012 at 10:03 am

It should also that Buffet is an investor in Israel.

madman on April 26, 2012 at 10:10 am

last post should be
It should be notrd also that Buffet is an investor in Israel.

madman on April 26, 2012 at 11:51 am

last post should be
It should be noted also that Buffet is an investor in Israel.

madman on April 26, 2012 at 11:51 am

Mario writes, “I have heard of why Mr Buffet is a not a vocal opponent of the death tax.”

That’s hardly surprising. Given that almost all of Buffet’s wealth will go straight to the Gates foundation, little of his wealth will ever be taxed. The same goes for Gates.

Raymond in DC on April 27, 2012 at 12:23 am

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