Warren Buffett and Barack Obama’s administration have had several run ins since the latter took office. Buffett styles himself as a supporter of Obama, an asset to the incumbent seeking reelection in November. Buffett’s love for the president only stretches so far however. Bloomberg reported earlier today that Buffett will not be contributing to the Obama Super PAC, a huge driver of the president’s reelection campaign.
Buffett’s refusal to donate stems from his antipathy toward the political fundraising instrument. Super PACs were ushered in by the Citizen’s United decision of the US Supreme Court and have found many critics, including Obama himself. Despite his public opposition to Super PACs as fundraising tools the president’s campaign instituted its own. That move met with cries of hypocrisy from both supporters and opponents of the president’s campaign. The arguments given in support of the decision were generally of the level playing field source. That has obviously not been good enough for Buffett to accept the decision.
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Buffett told shareholders at the annual meeting today that he did not want to see democracy going down that road. SuperPACs allow individuals and private corporations to donate unlimited sums of money in favor of a candidate or cause. Buffett is obviously on the side of the argument that seeks to have the Supreme Court’s decision overturned or legislation put in place to curb the dominance of money in American politics.
This is not Buffett’s first political stand during the current president’s tenure. The Buffett rule, a tax arrangement that would see higher income individuals pay more in taxes, is named after his public support of such changes to the tax system. Buffett rather infamously stated that his secretary paid a higher tax rate than him under the current rules.
That led to her becoming a national celebrity, a status Buffett joked about on opening the conference. He japed that calls from the President and media coming into his office sought after his Secretary rather than him. Buffett will continue to be associated with President Obama as long as he retains his office. His position and public persona delegate him a great deal of sway in the political system. His wealth guarantees him a voice few others can attest to. As he refuses to donate to a SuperPAC that must weigh on his mind.