OMAHA, Neb. — Billionaire Warren Buffett said Wednesday he’s willing to match any contributions that Republican members of Congress make to help reduce the national debt.
Buffett told Time magazine about his offer in a conversation about why he’s optimistic about the nation’s future.
Buffett, who is chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, was criticized by Republicans last year for his suggestion that Congress increase taxes on the “mega-rich” like himself.
Several Republicans, including Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, suggested Buffett just donate money to help the nation balance its books instead of asking to pay higher taxes.
“It restores my faith in human nature to think that there are people who have been around Washington all this time and are not yet so cynical as to think that (the deficit) can’t be solved by voluntary contributions,” Buffett said to the magazine.
Buffett did not immediately respond Wednesday afternoon to a message from The Associated Press.
Buffett tells Time that he doesn’t think many Republicans will be willing to take him up on his offer to match their contributions. The longtime Democrat said he’d even triple anything McConnell gives.
McConnell spokesman Don Stewart said Congress made it possible for people like Buffett, who argue for higher taxes, to check a box on their tax form and send in a check, but McConnell’s not likely to contribute.
“Sen. McConnell says that Washington should be smaller, rather than taxes getting bigger,” Stewart said.
Buffett has said he believes his tax rate is too low compared with what middle-income wage earners pay, especially as President Barack Obama and Congress struggle to rein in the growing federal debt. He said in a New York Times opinion piece that he paid $6,938,744 in federal taxes in 2010, or about 17.4 percent of his taxable income.
For years Buffett has said he doesn’t believe it is right that he is taxed at a lower rate than his secretary. And he says most of the mega-rich people he knows wouldn’t mind paying more in taxes.
“We need a tax system that takes very good care of people who just really aren’t as well adapted to the market system, and to capitalism, but are nevertheless just as good citizens, and are doing things that are of use in society,” Buffett said.