On Friday, September 30 2011, FOX Business Network’s (FBN) Liz Claman spoke with Berkshire Hathway’s CEO, Warren Buffett. During the interview Buffett clarified his position on taxing the ultra wealthy in a manner that would be fair (and that it would not apply to people the average individual). He also answered questions regarding Berkshire’s future investments as well as his investment in Bank of America [BAC]. In late August 2011, news broke that Berkshire had made a $5 billion preferred stock investment in Bank of America. As usual, Buffett also commented on the health of the U.S. economy and housing, as well as on the Greek debt situation.
Excerpts from the FOX Business Network interview:
CREDIT: FOX Business Network
On the proposed Buffett tax:
“I didn’t say the wealthy should pay more. I said the ultra wealthy who are paying very low tax rates should pay more and the figures show that the 400 top tax payers who earned an average of almost $230 million a piece were paying 21% in a combined payroll tax and income tax, which is well below what all the people in my office pay now. What I’m talking about would not apply to someone that made $5 million a year as a baseball player or $10 million a year on media. It would apply only to probably 50,000 people out of 309 million who have huge incomes pay very low taxes. If you have a country with a deficit of over a trillion dollars and you think it can be solved by voluntary tax payments then you believe in the tooth fairy. There should be a policy that applies to people with money who earn lots of money and pay very low rates. If they earn it by normal jobs what I say would not hit them at all.”
On if millionaires would have to pay more than 39% under the proposed Buffett rule:
“No, not at all true. The millionaire who is paying 39% now will not have an extra dime of taxes. I will pay an extra dime because I make a lot of my income from money. If you make $10 million or more, there should be a minimum tax and if you make a lot of it by capital gains it will have some effect.”
On his plans for the future:
“We will invest a record $7 billion in plant and equipment this year. Berkshire’s never done that before and over 90% of it will be in the US, so things are going on.”
On if the tickets for the Obama fundraiser he’s attending tonight are sold out:
“That’s my impression. I’ve got a list of attendees and I think it was geared for 100.”
On if he supports President Obama 100%:
“I don’t support every policy he has but I support the President 100%.”
On his investment in Bank of America:
“I placed this call to Brian Moynihan, I never met him, it was the first time I ever talked to him in my life. The whole conversation was probably 5 minutes. I said I have an idea if it appeals to you fine, if it doesn’t appeal to you that’s fine too.”
On if he supports the Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan:
“100%. I know what he’s doing and he’s doing the things necessary to clean up the problems created by somebody before him.”
On if he thinks Greece would get jettisoned from the eurozone if they don’t pay their taxes:
“It’s hard to tell; that’s the reason I’m scared. We sold all of our bonds in some other countries in the eurozone. We own some German bonds, but don’t own bonds of other countries.”
On if he’s been buying stocks:
“We buy stocks every day. We bought 4 billion in marketable securities in the third quarter.”
On Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s Operation Twist program:
“I don’t want anything that causes to build a lot of houses tomorrow. We have an excess inventory to work off. I don’t think the prime factor bringing us to prosperity in the future now is either monetary or fiscal policy.”
On if he hired Ted Weschler, Todd Colmes, Howard Buffett and others to have his ducks in a row so he can retire:
“No. It was a terrific addition to Berkshire and I’ve been looking for people to take over the investment function in a small way now and a huge way later on but that’s just preparing for the future.”
Video Of The Interview:
In case you missed the video (2 clips), you can watch it on FOX Business Network’s website.
Thank you to FOX Business Network for sharing this info with The Investment Blog!
Thanks & Happy Investing!