Investing legend Warren Buffett has made good on a promise to match what GOP lawmakers volunteer to pay in non-obligatory taxes designed to narrow deficits.
Buffett says he'll cut a check for $49,000 to match donations made by Rep. Scott Rigell, a Virginia Republican, CNBC reports.
Buffett last August said U.S. tax codes needed changing because wealthier American pay less taxes as a percentage than do middle class Americans since the nature of the income the wealthy report allows for more deductions and other loopholes.
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Buffett's comments sparked praise but also criticism, especially from Republican Sens. Mitch McConnell and John Thune, who introduced the so-called "Buffett Rule Act," an option on tax forms that would allow the rich to donate more in taxes to help pay down the national debt.
Buffett countered by saying that if the GOP volunteered to tap that option and pay more taxes to ease widening deficits, he'd match them, even by going threefold in Senator Mitch McConnell's case.
Rigell stepped up to the plate, and the Oracle of Omaha is happy to report he has matched Rigell's volunteer payment, telling him in a letter released by Berkshire Hathaway that he's "particularly impressed that you took this action before my challenge."
Buffett said that he "will be delighted to match" Rigell's donations, AFP reported.
Rigell has said he donates 15 percent of his congressional salary "to pay down the debt," which amounted to $23,103.33 in 2011 and about $26,100 in 2012, CNBC adds.
"Though we differ on tax policy, as fellow Americans and businessmen I know that we share this common bond: a deep concern over the state and trajectory of our country's finances," Rigell says.
McConnell's office has pointed out that out that Democrats should be included in Buffett's challenge.
"Senator McConnell says that Washington should be smaller, rather than taxes getting bigger," McConnell's spokesman Don Stewart says in a recent statement, according to the AFP newswire.
"And since some, like President Obama and Mr. Buffett want to pay higher taxes, Congress made it possible for them to call their own bluff and send in a check."
"So I look forward to Mr. Buffett matching a healthy batch of checks from those who actually want to pay higher taxes, including Congressional Democrats, the President and the DNC (Democratic National Committee)."
Buffett says Democrats are welcome to play as well.
"I plan to send along my match to the Treasury around April 20th, after I've had a chance to hear from everyone," Buffett says in a letter to Rigell, the AFP newswire adds.
"You are the first to respond, but I hope your action spurs an intramural rivalry between Republicans and Democrats."
Spending is not the only culprit behind an annual $1.3 trillion federal deficit, as tax breaks are to blame, too, ranging from the healthcare exclusion tax break to small energy tax credits, a bipartisan congressional panel report concludes, as reported by Reuters.
Don't expect an easy compromise to arise soon, as Republicans and Democrats remain fundamentally at odds over the role of closing tax loopholes to narrow deficits that are ailing the economy.
"I see just a big fight," says George Yin, a tax professor at the University of Virginia Law School and congressional Joint Committee on Taxation chief of staff from 2003 to 2005, according to Reuters.
Even suggesting closing small loopholes will ruffle feathers.
"You can't even dismiss the little, itty-bitty ones," Yin says.
"Every single one of those things, there's a group of people, it's their whole life's work tied up in this and they are going to lobby like heck."
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