Warren Buffett

Buffett Antitype to Norquist

Warren Buffett, the seer behind Berkshire Hathaway, is the idyll of the Democratic Party in its quest to raise income tax rates for wealthy Americans.

The Oracle of Omaha has become the antitype to Grover Norquist. Norquist keeps his no-tax pledges in a vault and rules his conservative domain from a seat at the head of a table in a DC office building. Buffett extols the need for tax equity in ubiquitous quotes, appearances on The Daily Show and a new book, "Tap Dancing to Work."

The 82-year-old Buffett, who some call the most successful investor in the last century, doesn't pledge allegiance to trends or fads. He follows his own instincts and research, often in contrary directions to the investment crowd. He laments what he calls the trading culture that generates profits, not wealth.

One of the wealthiest and most influential men in the world, Buffett says he looks for the long-term gain. That accounts for why he invests in railroads, utilities, financial companies, newspapers and, most recently, debt-ridden Spain. It also accounts for why he doesn't see higher taxes as an impediment to investment.

His promise to give away 99 percent of his fortune, his continued residence at the house he bought in 1958 for $31,500 and his preference for public transportation make Buffett an outlier in the magnate set. So does his support for higher tax rates for billionaires or, as he puts it, tax rates higher than his secretary pays.

So while Republicans scurry around trying to avoid ticking off Norquist and his army of conservative contributors, Democrats fawn over Buffett for his magnanimous position on tax equity, philanthropy and the public good.

Buffett's latest round of book tour interviews also offers a sharp contrast to actions by major corporations such as Oracle and Wal-Mart, which are accelerating dividends to the end of this year to help shareholders escape anticipated higher capital gain tax rates next year.

Starbucks CEO Urges Contribution Boycott

Until U.S. political leaders put aside partisanship and provide leadership, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said business leaders should stop making political contributions. Photo by University of Denver.From his Seattle office, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has seen enough and is leading what amounts to a boycott of political contributions until Congress and President Obama work out a plan that restores faith in the American economy.

"Right now, our economy is frozen in a cycle of fear and uncertainty," Schultz wrote this week to other corporate leaders. "Companies are afraid to hire. Consumers are afraid to spend. Banks are afraid to lend."

"Our national elected officials from both parties have failed to lead," he says. "They have chosen to put partisan and ideological purity over the wellbeing of the people. They have undermined the full faith and credit of the United States. They have stirred up fears about our economic prospects without doing anything to truly address those fears."

Schultz said the way to get the attention of politicians is to cut off campaign contributions. "We invite leaders of businesses — indeed all concerned Americans — to join us in this pledge."