Warren Buffett is ready to call Republicans’ tax bluff. Last fall, Senator Mitch warren buffett imageMcConnell said that if Buffett was feeling “guilty” about paying too little in taxes, he should “send in a check.” The jab was in response to Buffett’s August 2011 New York Times op-ed, which made hay of the fact that our tax system is so unbalanced that Buffett (worth about $45 billion) pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. Senator John Thune promptly introduced the “Buffett Rule Act,” an option on tax forms that would allow the rich to donate more in taxes to help pay down the national debt. It was, as Buffett told me for this week’s TIME cover story, “A tax policy only a Republican could come up with.”

Still, he’s willing to take them up on it. “It restores my faith in human nature to think that there are people who have been around Washington all this time and are not yet so cynical as to think that [the deficit] can’t be solved by voluntary contributions,” he says with a chuckle. So, Buffett has pledged to match one for one all such voluntary contributions made by Republican members of Congress. “And, I’ll even go three for one for McConnell.” That could be quite a bill if McConnell takes the challenge; after all, the Senator is worth at least $10 million. As Buffett put it to me: “I’m not worried.”

He doesn’t want to sound ungrateful, especially since McConnell and other Republicans have lobbied to keep taxes low for the uber-rich, saving him $6 million-to-$7 million this year. Oddly, though, conservatives can’t seem to make up their mind about taxes. Just today in the Wall Street Journal, supply sider Arthur Laffer bashed Buffett for shielding income because he doesn’t pay taxes on either unrealized capital gains (currently taxed at 0 percent) or charitable contributions (which are tax deductible). “Well, I had a net unrealized loss in 2011,” says Buffett. “But if Arthur has a plan for how he wants to tax unrealized capital gains, I’d love to hear it – it’s an interesting thing for a Republican to put forward!”

Read more: http://swampland.time.com/2012/01/11/warren-buffett-to-mitch-mcconnell-put-up-or-shut-up/#ixzz1jC4VU3TX

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