In the past when Warren Buffett has spoken out the "super rich" needing to pay a higher tax rate, the media have hung on his every word. But, now that he has spoken out against a windfall profits tax on oil, will they notice?
Buffett said he disapproved of the windfall profits taxes in an interview with CNBC's Becky Quick on "Power Lunch" on June 25.
"I think it is very hard to have windfall taxes," Buffett said. "Steel has doubled in price. Is that a windfall for the steel producers? Sure. Corn is $7 a bushel; soybeans are at $15 a bushel. I don't think any candidate in his right mind with the number of electoral votes in farm states would say you ought to tax farms specially because they are getting a windfall."
Obama, who Buffett has pledged his support to, said on June 9 he would impose a windfall profits tax on oil companies.
"I'll make oil companies like Exxon pay a tax on their windfall profits, and we'll use the money to help families pay for their skyrocketing energy costs and other bills," Obama said according to a June 9 Reuters story.
Buffett compared oil to other companies making money off of high commodity prices and disagreed with the principle of higher tax rates that are a result of market fluctuations.
"But they [farms] are getting a windfall from commodity prices," Buffett said. "Maybe they deserve it because commodities have been under priced, but to pick out one commodity - with copper at $3.60 a pound, you could say that the copper producers are getting a windfall. The networks are getting a windfall because of the Olympics. So, I don't think that picking anybody that's had a commodity that's increased in price a lot and saying that there's a special tax because of that makes any sense.
Buffett also told Quick he disagreed with Obama's decision to reject public funding of $84.1 million in federal money by opting out. Obama had pledged to participate on prior occasions, but now he won't be restricted to spending $84.1 million in the two months between the nominating convention and Election Day.
"I don't agree with that," Buffett said. "I don't think he should have."
The world's richest man was interviewed in New York prior to eating lunch with investors Mohnish Pabrai and Guy Spier, who paid $650,100 for the invitations, proceeds which go to the Glide Foundation charity.
The media have held the "Oracle of Omaha" in high regard for his prior populist views. CNN's Kyra Phillips called Buffett "fascinating" in a story about his pro-tax policies on May 20. "NBC Nightly News" featured Buffett railing against the American tax structure in an interview with former "Nightly News" anchor Tom Brokaw on Oct. 30, 2007.