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He’s From Omaha and He’s Not Doing 500 Sit-ups

Nov
4
2003

He’s from Omaha and he really was here to help. Too bad the Wall Street Journal got in the way.
Warren Buffett doesn’t like the way in which the WSJ portrayed his Prop. 13 comments and he’s fighting back. On Total Recall election day, Buffet wrote to the Journal and complained about the story that made Gov-elect Schwarzenegger say (probably with less humor in private) that he’s ordered the Omaha billionaire to do 500 sit-ups for his ill-timed remarks about the state’s screwy tax system.
Buffet’s complaint? That the reporter with whom he spoke neglected to include a discussion of a third Buffet property in the story he wrote. That, says Buffet was the point of the conversation which, by the way, sounds like a classic set-up that the WSJ could have managed a bit better. The mishandling gave the charitable souls on the Journal’s edit page a chance to vent their spleens about tax and spend billionaires. That wasn’t good for the Schwarzenegger campaign and it embarrassed Buffett.
The third property, a house on which Buffet pays about $12,000 a year in property taxes, provide a better example of the inequites within the state’s tax system, Buffet tells the Journal. And that — not the difference between Omaha and Laguna Beach — is the point.
Buffett maintains — and he’s right — that this is the state’s biggest problem. You can — and you should — go to Berkshire Hathaway’s website to check out all the fine points. But here, as Andrew Sullivan likes to say, is the money quote:
“Simply correcting extreme inequities in the imposition of those taxes would provide much additional revenue for the state.” Buffet writes to the WSJ. “This return to fairness could be done in a manner that protects homeowners with limited incomes, living in homes whose values have soared. Several proposals include such protection.”
Political Message: property tax reform is still on the table The Terminator is setting in Sacramento. Why haven’t you seen that story anywhere? HUH?
Credit (along with a gently raised eyebrow of quiet stock-owning outrage) to The Merc’s Dan Gillmor who got a copy of the Berkshire Hathaway stuff right off and posted it double quick along with, uh, the notation that he’s a Berkshire Hathaway shareholder.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 11:27 AM | Permalink

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