Back and forth with Boozman on Buffett

Warren Buffett has gotten himself involved in politics, and he’s probably going to be sorry about it.

Buffett, the billionaire investor, has made the point lately that he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. He’s talking about the unfairness of the tax system and, indirectly, the budget deficit.

President Obama has proposed a “Buffett Rule” that would place a minimum tax on million-dollar salaries. Republican Sen. John Thune has proposed his own “Buffett Rule” that would allow people to pay extra money to reduce the federal debt. Arkansas Sen. John Boozman is one of the co-sponsors.

Thune’s bill is a waste of time and a personal attack. In effect, Republicans are saying, “If you want to pay more taxes, Mr. Buffett, go right ahead.” But that would not solve the problems Buffett was pointing out.

I asked Sen. Boozman for some time to talk about this and sent him my questions, which were not softballs. He called me that day ready to answer them, and to his credit, he didn’t back down from any of them. Even when my questions were a little more direct than they should have been, his tone never changed. Man, he’s a cool customer.

Boozman’s main policy point was that Obama’s Buffett bill won’t address the problem Buffett was discussing because Buffett will still take advantage of the loopholes and deductions he uses now to pay a lower tax rate than his secretary. What’s needed are less spending and tax reform, he said.

Here’s more in my Wednesday column for the Arkansas News Bureau.

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