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Anti-Tax Critics Attack Warren Buffett and His 'Tax the Rich' Crusade

Warren Buffett's high-profile visit to Washington last week is generating some criticism from some of those opposed to his "Tax the Rich" campaign. Here's a sampling:

On Bloomberg's Political Capital with Al Hunt over the weekend, Hunt asked columnist Robert Novak what he thought of Buffett's "selflessness." Novak angrily responded: "Well, that's ridiculous. He's going to protect himself and his heirs. That is the biggest hypocrisy in the world. And people who like high taxes just latch onto him. But he should be ashamed of himself by putting out that phony message." (A video clip of the exchange is posted on ThinkProgress.org. The entire programcan be seen at Bloomberg.com.)

There was a similar objection on The Journal Editorial Report, a Fox News Channel program featuring members of the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board. Cypress Semiconductor founder and CEO T.J. Rodgers rejected Buffett's call to "take a little more out of the hides of guys like me."

According to a transcript posted at OpinionJournal.com, Rodgers told Paul Gigot: "Warren Buffett is not talking about himself. He's the master of hypocritical statements. He's talking about guys like me. Warren Buffett has billions, tens of billions of dollars beyond the tax stage. So it's easy for him to say tax the other guys." Rodgers argues that if you "start taxing the wealth creators in the world, which are younger guys like me right now, we're simply going to move a bunch of money from productive investment to Washington." (A video clip of the segment is also available on FoxNews.com.)


On CNBC's Kudlow & Company, Republican Presidential candidate Fred Thompson told Larrythat Buffett is "espousing ... basically the policies of the Democratic Party. And I think they're dead wrong." (A video clip of Thompson's Buffett-related comments appears to the left of this text.)

On NJ.com ("Everything Jersey"), Murray Sabrin arguesthat "Buffett, the son of the libertarian Republican congressman Howard Buffett, obviously did not learn from his late father that the government should be limited to a few authorized activities enumerated in the Constitution."

Dealbreaker.com ("A Wall Street Tabloid") Editor-in-Chief John Carney writes: "Buffett is not exactly a disinterested party in the estate tax debate, and his advocacy of the tax is not exactly a selfless sacrifice. Because he is invested heavily in the insurance industry, he stands to lose a lot of dough if the estate tax every got repealed."

Some members of the Senate Finance Committee also suggested Buffett might be advocating on behalf of his financial interests due to Berkshire's insurance businesses. He replied that Berkshire does very little direct life insurance business, although it does provide reinsurance.

NewsBusters.org ("Exposing and Combating Liberal Media Bias") accused ABC's Good Morning America of "gushing over 'Robin Hood' Buffett" with Diane Sawyer, in effect, advocating for Buffett's arguments by saying, "A billionaire has taken your (the viewer's) side over taxes and fairness."

Writing a "Commentary" piece in The Wall Street Journal, Trend Macrolytics chief investment officer Donald Luskin urges Buffett to "volunteer" to pay more taxesif he thinks he is undertaxed. "All Mr. Buffett has to do is send a check to Department G -- that's G for 'gift' -- at the Bureau of the Public Debt in Parkersburg, W. Va."

CPA Frank Ryan makes the same suggestion in an "Open Letter to Warren Buffett" appearing on Investor's Business Daily's web site: "I am stunned how such a brilliant man could have such flawed logic. He has successfully maneuvered his thinking to inadvertently deceive even himself."

Questions? Comments? Email me at buffettwatch@cnbc.com

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