Editorial: Tax-free dividends -- whoopie for us

Wednesday, June 4, 2003

You'd think Warren Buffett -- one of the world's richest men -- would be ecstatic over the tax cut passed and signed last week by congress and the president.

But he's not. Buffett, the chairman of the holding company, Berkshire Hathaway, said, in an opinion article in the Washington Post, that he already pays about the same income tax rate as his receptionist -- about 30 percent.

Buffett said that, after the Bush tax cut, he would be paying a mere three percent, an amount he termed, somewhat sarcastically, as "a bit light."

"Supporters of making dividends tax free like to paint critics as promoters of class warfare. The fact is, however, their proposal promotes class welfare. For my class," wrote Buffett, whose wealth is estimated at $36 billion.

Amazingly, at least to us, is that in this period of fiscal instability and economic recession, while the nation is facing unforseen costs in protecting itself from terror and aggressively implementing removal of those we fear are capable of terroristic acts against us, the president has managed to force an even larger financial burden on the nation as a whole with a deficit running into the trillions.

While Social Security funds are predicted to go into deficits in less than 20 years; while cash-strapped states are dramatically slashing medical programs for the poor; while a world-class health care system becomes out of reach of all but the well-insured . . . we get tax cuts. On stock dividends.

Eighty million Baby Boomers face an uncertain retirement, since the president has placed an incredible burden in deficits upon us all for the rest of our lives and beyond. The young working men and women must wonder whom they are working for, when it is inevitable that they will be the ones asked to make up the Social Security deficits and fund the national debt. What tax rate will they be paying ten years from now to save Social Security? What Social Security or Medicare coverage will they have to look forward to?

The only good news out of this tax cut is that it was less than half what the president asked for. As far as our windfall from the removal of the corporate dividend tax? It's a bit light.

-- GWD

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