Warren Buffett Urges Tax Increase for Wealthy, Says We're Still in a Recession

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The Oracle of Omaha has spoken, and he wants higher taxes -- at least for the wealthy, which of course, would include himself.

Buffett, perhaps America's most famous investor and chairman of Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B), is worth an estimated $45 billion, so he can afford a bit of a tax hike. But it's worth noting that he supports a tax increase, despite arguments that taxing the rich will hurt the economy.

Speaking to Mike Allen of Politico, Buffett unambiguously backed letting the Bush tax cuts expire for "people in the high income levels."

Referring to the tax cuts, Buffett said: "I think it's almost a cinch that they will be extended for the people – I don't know if it'll be exactly [making less than] $250,000, or whatever the number may be, in the end. But I do not that there's going to be, effectively, a tax increase for people up and down the line."

"I think there should be tax increases for people in the high income levels," Buffett added.

Proponents of extending the Bush tax cuts across the board argue that raising taxes on those making more than $250,000 would harm small businesses, because so many of America's 50 million businesses are one-person or small operations. Economists from the Congressional Budget Office and Tax Policy Center agree that the tax increase would affect 3%, or 750,000, of taxpayers who report "net positive business income."

Still in a Recession

Buffett's comments came after an event of the the 10,000 Small Businesses Advisory Council, where the Oracle, along with his associate Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, handed out diplomas. "I've enclosed my 800 number," Buffett quipped to the graduating entrepreneurs, according to Allen.

Buffett also said: "The biggest thing you have going for the American economy, actually, is the regenerative capacity of American capitalism, and that doesn't happen overnight. I mean, this country had a huge, huge wound ... It takes time for wounds to heal, regardless of how good the care is."

The Oracle, who voted for President Obama, said, "I'd vote for him all over again. ... I think he's got the same vision about America I do. ... I think he has the same social goals, very much, that I do."

This despite the fact that Buffett thinks the United States is "still in a recession," despite the fact that economists say the recession officially ended one year ago. "We're not gonna be out of it for a while, but we will get out," Buffett told CNBC in an interview broadcast Thursday.

Earlier this week, the National Bureau of Economic Research said the recession lasted 18 months and technically ended in June 2009. The Oracle told CNBC he "defines a recession differently from the NBER, saying it ends when real per capita gross domestic product returns to its pre-downturn level," Reuters said. That, of course, has not happened.
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