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Buffett Criticizes Obama on Windfall Profits Tax, Public Funding

      Billionaire investor and Barack Obama supporter Warren Buffett on June 25 turned on the Democratic presidential candidate over a proposed windfall profits tax on oil companies. Buffett also criticized Obama’s decision to reject public financing for his campaign.

     “I think it is very hard to have windfall taxes,” Buffett told CNBC’s Becky Quick on “Power Lunch” from New York City.. “Steel has doubled in price. Is that a windfall for the steel producers? Sure. Corn is $7 a bushel; soybeans are at $15 a bushel. I don’t think any candidate in his right mind with the number of electoral votes in farm states would say you ought to tax farms specially because they are getting a windfall.”


     Obama, whom Buffett has publicly supported, said June 9 he would impose a windfall profits tax on oil companies.


     “I’ll make oil companies like Exxon pay a tax on their windfall profits, and we’ll use the money to help families pay for their skyrocketing energy costs and other bills,” Obama said, according to Reuters.


     “But they [farms] are getting a windfall from commodity prices,” Buffett said. “Maybe they deserve it because commodities have been under priced, but to pick out one commodity – with copper at $3.60 a pound, you could say that the copper producers are getting a windfall. The networks are getting a windfall because of the Olympics. So, I don’t think that picking anybody that’s had a commodity that’s increased in price a lot and saying that there’s a special tax because of that makes any sense.


     Buffett also told Quick he disagreed with Obama’s decision to reject $84.1 million in federal money under the public campaign financing program. Obama had pledged to participate on prior occasions, but now he won’t be restricted to spending $84.1 million in the two months between the nominating convention and Election Day.


     “I don’t agree with that,” Buffett said. “I don’t think he should have.”


     Despite Obama’s decision, Buffett is holding a July 2 fundraiser in Chicago for the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. But he’s not concerned about campaign financing for either candidate.


     “I think Barack’s going to have plenty of money,” Buffett said. “I mean, he gave up on federal financing. I don’t think money’s going to be a problem for either candidate. The American public – when they go to the voting booth in November is going to have a very good fix on both candidates and a shortage of money will not impair them having that fix. I think money’s going to be a non-issue during the campaign.”


     The media have held the “Oracle of Omaha” in high regard for his prior populist views. CNN’s Kyra Phillips called Buffett “fascinating” in a story about his pro-tax policies on May 20. “NBC Nightly News” featured Buffett railing against the American tax structure in an interview with former “Nightly News” anchor Tom Brokaw on Oct. 30, 2007.