Philanthropy for the Government: Warren Buffett Challenges Mitch McConnell and John Thune

January 11, 2012; Source: Politico  |  One of the dopiest bills to be submitted in the current do-nothing Congress is Senator John Thune’s “Buffett Rule Act,” which would allow wealthy people like Warren Buffett, known recently for advocating higher taxes for the wealthy, to voluntarily contribute money to the government rather than waiting for a tax rate hike.

Thune and fellow Republican Senator Mitch McConnell believe that government should be smaller rather than taxes being larger. In fact, McConnell called out Buffett on “Meet the Press,” saying, “If Warren Buffett would like to give up some of his benefits, we’d be happy to talk about it. . . . with regard to his tax rate, if he’s feeling guilty about it, I think he should send in a check.”

The chairman of Berkshire Hathaway seems pretty sure that Republican senators of some great wealth won’t be willing to volunteer their own money to the U.S. Treasury. In the new issue of Time magazine, Buffett responds to the Republican challenge by saying he will match dollar for dollar all voluntary personal contributions made by any and all congressional Republicans, adding, “I’ll even go three for one for McConnell.” Buffett also described Thune’s pending bill as “a tax policy only a Republican could come up with.”

Will Republicans double dare Buffett and make voluntary contributions to the federal government? And will they aim to take their donations as charitable tax deductions? Let’s hope that they make general operating grants rather than program- or project-specific grants.

Guys, just raise the tax rate on millionaires and billionaires, and stop the tomfoolery. The federal budget deficit cannot be closed just by cuts. In the end, the nation is going to have to raise more revenues through taxes, and the best way to do that is to target the taxes toward the sliver of the population that can easily absorb an increase. —Rick Cohen