Warren Buffett is taking "put your money where your mouth is" to a whole different level.
In August, he published a New York Times Op-Ed explaining that he, the highest earner in his company and with a net worth of about $45 billion, had a lower tax rate than his secretary. And who did he blame for that? United States tax policy.
In response, Republican Senator John Thune introduced the "Buffett Rule Act," which would add a line to tax forms allowing the super-rich to donate toward the national debt. Fellow Senator Mitch McConnell made it even more personal by suggesting that if Buffett is unhappy with the current system, he should "send in a check."
Now, in Time, Buffett has publicly pledged to match every dollar personally donated to the national debt by Senate Republicans.
And three for every dollar from Senator McConnell.
Will Buffett Have to Pay Up?
Buffett says that he isn't worried, but his proclamation has brought to attention the fact that the 47 Republican members of the Senate have a combined net worth of about $387 million. And this promise isn't out of character for Buffett—he's well known for being a billionaire who champions social change. In 2010, he spearheaded the Giving Pledge by pledging to contribute half of his fortune to charity and convincing some fellow members of the Forbes 400 list to do the same.
The same year, he wrote in Fortune, “I’ve worked in an economy that rewards someone who saves the lives of others on a battlefield with a medal, rewards a great teacher with thank-you notes from parents, but rewards those who can detect the mispricing of securities with sums reaching into the billions.” From all appearances, Buffett is the black swan of the financial world: a billionaire with a conscience.
Despite the political coloring of the issue, we're impressed (and amused) by Buffett's announcement. We're on the edge of our seat—who will pay up?