Tuesday night’s Presidential debate in Nashville featured a notable clash or two, but on one topic there was agreement: Warren Buffett. The so-called "Oracle of Omaha" is an Obama supporter but also received a nod from John McCain. When asked who would be a suitable Treasury Secretary both men invoked Buffett’s name. So who is the Oracle everybody admires?
Warren Buffett is the 78-year old chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, a holding company based in Omaha, Nebraska. In 2007 Forbes ranked him the richest man in the world, worth $62 billion, now only $50 billion…but you get the idea.
How does somebody get that rich? By buying the stocks of companies that make good returns for their investors. Some of Buffett’s picks over the years include: Coca-Cola and McDonalds as well as Dow Chemical, and of course WalMart. Trouble is, those that make the best returns for their shareholders don’t generally treat their workers all that well — or the environment. All that shareholder profit’s got to come from somewhere. Buffett also owns Mid-Atlantic Energy, a utility that burns coal and runs nuclear power plants.
In terms of Buffett the bellwether-leader — the Wall Street Journal recently reported that Buffett was shopping for businesses in Europe; he owns some in Israel, and last week announced an investment in a Chinese venture that makes batteries for electric cars. Not a very reassuring move for car makers here at home.
Buffett would change the tax system to make it fairer — He’s been public about the fact that in 2006, he paid just 19% of his income in total federal taxes. He gives lots of money to the Gates Foundation. So you can see why he’s a man for all candidates.
But if the candidates like Buffett for Treasury Secretary so much, it’s odd that they vote for Paulson plan. When Buffett kicked in $5 billion to Goldman Sachs he demanded 10% interest back. Paulson just gave it away.
Laura Flanders is the host of RadioNation and GRITtv. Watch GRITtv on Free Speech TV (Dish Network Ch. 9415) on cable (8 pm ET on Channel 67 in Manhattan) or online at GRITtv.org. Carl Ginsburg co-wrote "Who is the Oracle?"