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Warren Buffett's $250K Difference of Opinion with Obama

Monday, 26 Nov 2012 | 11:26 AM ET
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Warren Buffett says he supports President Barack Obama's efforts to eliminate the Bush-era tax cuts for wealthy Americans, but he disagrees on where to draw the line.

In an op-ed piece in The New York Times on Monday, the Berkshire Hathaway CEO writes that the cutoff should be "maybe $500,000 or so."

Obama has insisted that the cuts be extended only for families with less than $250,000 in annual income.

Republicans argue that tax rates should stay lower for everyone to promote economic growth.

It's a key issue in the ongoing negotiations over the looming "fiscal cliff."

In his op-ed, Buffett rejects the idea that wealthier Americans would go on "strike ... stuffing their ample funds under their mattresses if — gasp —capital gains rates and ordinary income rates are increased. The ultrarich, including me, will forever pursue investment opportunities."

Berkshire's Buffett also repeats his controversial call for a minimum tax of high incomes. He's suggesting 30 percent on taxable income between $1 million and $10 million, and 35 percent on incomes above $10 million. "A plain and simple rule like that will block the efforts of lobbyists, lawyers and contribution-hungry legislators to keep the ultrarich paying rates well below those incurred by people with income just a tiny faction of ours," he writes.

He thinks Congress should make that change right away, and not wait for some effort at a more comprehensive tax reform.

In the meantime, he writes, you might "run into someone with a terrific investment idea, who won't go forward with it because of the tax he would owe when it succeeds."

Buffett wants to help. "Send him my way. Let me unburden him."

Keep up with Warren Buffett on CNBC.com and follow alexcrippen on Twitter.

Email comments to buffettwatch@cnbc.com

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