Other billionaires and Wall Street figures associated with at least some liberal policy ideas have questioned the recent economic proposals from the Democratic Party. Former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein attacked the buyback proposal this week. Former New York City Mayor and Wall Street billionaire Michael Bloomberg and Starbucks founder Howard Schultz are considering independent runs for president based on the idea that the center of the political spectrum is being neglected by both right and left.
Some comments Buffett has made in the past reveal his thinking on a few of the issues tied up in the buyback proposal. Buffett wrote in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal in 2015 that there were better ideas than raising the minimum wage to $15 to help the poor in this country, such as expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit. He wrote it was clear that the wealth gap was growing, but "The poor are most definitely not poor because the rich are rich. Nor are the rich undeserving."
He went on to write, "We should wish, in our rich society, for every person who is willing to work to receive income that will provide him or her a decent lifestyle. Second, any plan to do that should not distort our market system, the key element required for growth and prosperity. That second goal crumbles in the face of any plan to sizably increase the minimum wage."
His views on personal income taxes and the EITC show a preference for the tax code as a way to reduce economic inequality.
Two leading think tanks on the left and right recently joined together in an effort to figure out how to find common ground and economically improve life in America. The Brookings Institution and American Enterprise Institute recommended in their November 2018 report, "Work, Skills, Community: Restoring Opportunity for the Working Class," an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, which was already expanded during the Bush and Obama administrations, among other policy ideas, and they suggested a higher estate tax as one of the methods to pay for it.
When it comes to the Democratic senators' buyback proposal, the structure of Berkshire Hathaway shows how it might be a difficult idea to fairly implement across companies. Berkshire Hathaway is a conglomerate that owns many businesses operating in many sectors of the economy, from utilities to private jets, fast food restaurants, candy makers, clothing companies and grocery suppliers, but those businesses are operated and managed independently. Buffett has always made clear that he does not believe it is his business to tell someone else how to run their business. Berkshire Hathaway has hundreds of thousands of employees across these affiliated companies, but at its own headquarters, Berkshire directly employs only a few dozen people.