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'Impressed' and 'Delighted' Warren Buffett Matches GOP Rep's Deficit Donations

Wednesday, 18 Jan 2012 | 2:59 PM ET
Rep. Scott Rigell, (R) Virginia
Rep. Scott Rigell, (R) Virginia

Warren Buffett will be writing a check made out to the United States Treasury for just over $49,000 to help pay down the national debt.

He's matching voluntary contributions made this year and last year by Rep. Scott Rigell, a Republican representing Virginia.

In a letter to Rep. Rigell released today by Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett writes he's "particularly impressed that you took this action before my challenge."

In his challenge, issued in a Time Magazine interview last week, Buffett promises to match voluntary contributions aimed at reducing the deficit by "all Republican members of Congress, and I'll even go three for one with (Senate Minority Leader Mitch) McConnell."

McConnell, and other critics of Buffett's call for higher tax rates on the super-rich, have been suggesting that if Buffett thinks he's not taxed enough then he should "send in a check" to the Treasury.

In his letter to Buffett, also released by Berkshire, Rep. Rigell writes, that he "appreciates" and "gladly accepts" Buffett's "generous offer."

Rigell says he makes it a practice to donate 15 percent of his Congressional salary "to pay down the debt." That amounted to $23,103.33 in 2011 and about $26,100 in 2012.

Rigell 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."

Buffett writes back that he hopes Rigell's action "spurs an intramural rivalry between Republicans and Democrats .. a form of competition between the two parties that the American people would applaud" as a "small step" toward "better cooperation between the two parties."

Buffett will wait until April 20 to write his check to see if anyone else accepts his challenge.

Buffett also invites Rigell to come for a visit if he's "ever traveling near Omaha."

As for Rigell's offer to provide "documentation" of his contributions, Buffett tells him, "Your word is good with me."

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