WASHINGTON -- Billionaire investor Warren Buffett urged U.S. lawmakers Monday to raise taxes on wealthier Americans to cut Washington's huge budget deficit, saying the move would not dampen investments or jobs.
In a New York Times opinion article, the chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway proposed a tax increase on Americans who make at least $1 million per year and an additional increase on those making $10 million or more.
"Our leaders have asked for 'shared sacrifice.' But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched," Buffett wrote.
"While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks."
The man known as the "Oracle of Omaha" said his federal tax rate was 17.4 percent last year, while some investment managers were taxed just 15 percent on income reaching into the billions. He then noted that the middle class is taxed up to 25 percent in its income bracket, along with "heavy" payroll taxes.
In contrast, Buffett recalled "far higher" taxes rates for the rich in the 1980s and 1990s, and yet nearly 40 million jobs were added from 1980 to 2000.
"You know what's happened since then: lower tax rates and far lower job creation," he said.
"People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off."
Americans are losing faith with Congress's ability to tackle the country's financial woes, Buffett warned, calling for "immediate, real and very substantial" action.
A protracted partisan battle between lawmakers culminated in a last-minute deal on August 2 to raise the $14.3 trillion US debt ceiling and narrowly avoid a US default.
"My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress," he added. "It's time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice."