05 May 2012 Berkshire Hathaway Executives to be Questioned About “Buffett Rule,” Keystone XL Pipeline and Conflicts of Interest
Shareholder to Request Answers About Warren Buffett’s Loyalties to His Company as He Also Appears to Serve the Obama Administration
Omaha, NE / Washington, D.C. – The National Center for Public Policy Research plans to question Berkshire Hathaway’s Chief Executive Officer Warren Buffett over his calls for higher taxes and apparent conflict of interest regarding the Keystone XL Pipeline at the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Omaha, Nebraska on May 5. National Center General Counsel Justin Danhof will ask Buffett to explain whether his loyalties lie with President Barack Obama’s policies or Berkshire Hathaway’s shareholders.
“Buffett has hosted multiple lavish fundraisers for President Obama, advised the President and lent his name and idea to the President’s plan to raise taxes on all households making at least $1 million per year,” said Danhof. “Berkshire Hathaway shareholders have a right to know if Buffett’s loyalties are to President Obama, or company shareholders.”
In August 2011, Buffett penned an op-ed for the New York Times calling for the federal government to “raise rates immediately on taxable income in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital gains.” Following Buffett’s lead, President Obama introduced a plan for a minimum 30 percent effective tax rate on millionaires that he claimed would “help us close our deficit.”
A “Buffett Rule” tax is estimated to do precious little to reduce national debt. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, the plan would yield only $4 to $5 billion per year. Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer describes the Buffett Rule as “worse than useless” and explains that: “If we collect the Buffett tax for the next 250 years — a span longer than the life of this republic — it would not cover the Obama deficit for 2011 alone.”
“Rather than rewarding success, the Buffett Rule foments class warfare and does nothing to address the record-setting debts President Obama is accumulating. Most Americans would like wealthy individuals to invest in capital and create jobs. If Buffett is so adamant that wealthy Americans and business owners pay their ‘fair share’, he should write a check to the treasury and send it in,” said Danhof. “Instead of promoting a pointless plan that pits Americans against one another, Buffett should be focusing on his underperforming investments such as Coca-Cola.”
Danhof will also ask Buffett about the potential advantage his company may have received as a result of President Obama’s decision to halt the Keystone XL Pipeline.
In January, President Obama stopped the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would deliver oil from Canadian tar sands to American refineries on the Gulf Coast. At a time of prolonged unemployment, that decision cost Americans an estimated 20,000 jobs. However, not everyone lost money from Obama’s decision.
Burlington Santa Fe, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, stands to profit from Obama’s decision since it owns rail lines that may be used in lieu of the pipeline.
“Buffett and President Obama have been parading around the country demanding that the wealthy pay more taxes in the name of fairness and social justice. So why did the President halt a pipeline that would have created 20,000 middle-income jobs and decreased our dependence on unfriendly foreign oil?” asked Danhof. “While Obama’s actions hurt many average Americans, they may very well enrich Buffett – one of the richest men in American history. That is not fairness; it’s crony capitalism.”
Danhof is attending the meeting as proxy for the National Center’s executive director, David Almasi, who is a Berkshire Hathaway shareholder.
The National Center for Public Policy Research is a conservative, free-market, non-profit think-tank established in 1982. It is supported by the voluntary gifts of over 100,000 individual recent supporters. In 2011, it received over 350,000 individual donations. Two percent of its revenue comes from corporate sources. Contributions to it are tax-deductible.