5 Obscenely Rich People Who Should Stop Whining About Taxes (and Listen to Warren Buffett)


In a New York Times Op-Ed published today, billionaire investor Warren Buffett argues for higher taxes on the wealthy. Buffett slams the notion that the wealthy would stop investing if taxes went up on them, writing that we should “forget about the rich and ultrarich going on strike and stuffing their ample funds under their mattresses if — gasp — capital gains rates and ordinary income rates are increased.”

The Op-Ed comes amidst a raging debate in Washington about fiscal matters and as President Barack Obama proposes a plan to end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. While Buffett supports Obama’s proposal, he writes that he prefers “a cutoff point somewhat above $250,000 — maybe $500,000 or so.” Obama supports the expiration of the tax cuts for those making above $250,000. And Buffett also comes out for “a minimum tax on high incomes. I would suggest 30 percent of taxable income between $1 million and $10 million, and 35 percent on amounts above that.”

So Buffett’s one rich fellow with a good head on his shoulders. But many other wealthy people don’t share that characteristic. Instead, some rich folks in the United States have been screaming their heads off about the end of the Bush tax cuts and the looming spending cuts that could go into effect at the beginning of next year.

But instead of worrying about taxes going up, they should listen to Buffett’s reasonable proposal. Here’s 5 high-income figures who should listen to Warren Buffett.

1. Carly Fiorina

Fiorina has no reason to complain--she earned more than $42 million when she was ousted at Hewlett Packard. But there she was on NBC’s Meet the Press on November 25, kvetching about public workers and unions.

After Al Sharpton, a MSNBC host, said that the country needs to “deal with the tax on the rich first,” Fiorina replied by saying that “it is not fair that public employee union pensions and benefits are so rich now that cities and states are going bankrupt and college tuition is going up 25 and 30 percent or police and firefighters are being cut. There’s a lot that isn’t fair right now.”

2. David Cote

The CEO of Honeywell International sounds like a reasonable person when he says things like “you need more revenue,” as he told CBS News. But as a member of the Fix the Debt coalition, the plan Cote is pushing for calls for “cuts in deductions that are likely to include credits for working families and — you guessed it — more corporate tax breaks. Chief among these is a proposal to switch to a territorial system under which corporate foreign earnings would be permanently exempted,” as AlterNet pointed out.

Cote’s eyes are on the real prize for the austerity-pushers: cutting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. He told CBS News that “the big nut is going to have to be Medicare/Medicaid, and even though most people don't want to talk about it.”

3. David Siegel

The head of Westgate resorts in Florida made headlines when he threatened workers that he would fire them if President Obama is reelected.

The reason? Because the “current administration and members of the press have perpetuated an environment that casts employers against employees,” Siegel wrote in an e-mail to all employees of his company. Siegel also railed against what he thinks are onerous tax burdens. “We are being taxed to death and the government thinks we don't pay enough,” he wrote.

4. John Metz

The owner of many Denny’s and Dairy Queen franchises was another boss who threatened his workers with hell if Obama was reelected. Metz threatened to slash his employees’ pay and claimed that an “Obamacare surcharge” would lead him to pass costs on to the consumer.

“If I leave the prices the same, but say on the menu that there is a 5 percent surcharge for Obamacare, customers have two choices. They can either pay it and tip 15 or 20 percent, or if they really feel so inclined, they can reduce the amount of tip they give to the server, who is the primary beneficiary of Obamacare,” said Metz. “Although it may sound terrible that I'm doing this, it's the only alternative. I've got to pass the cost on to the consumer.”

5. Lloyd Blankfein

Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, is another member of the “Fix the Debt” coalition. And recent remarks make clear that Blankfein is bent on pushing the U.S. to alter the promise of Social Security and Medicare.

Speaking to CBS News, Blankfein said: “You're going to have to undoubtedly do something to lower people's expectations. The entitlements, and what people think that they're going to get, because it's not going to–they're not going to get it.”

This comment comes from a man who who was paid $16 million last year.

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