LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Buffett rule is good alternative for generating revenue

Thursday, April 19, 2012 | 11:29 a.m. CDT

This letter is in response to J. Karl Miller's most recent column, "Obama's Buffett rule another attack on wealthy, Romney".

J. Karl Miller focuses exclusively on the federal income tax to support his claim that the wealthy bear a disproportionate tax burden.

However, if all taxes are considered, the top 1 percent have about 20 percent of the wealth and pay about 20 percent of the taxes.

Miller disparages the relatively small amount of revenue that the "Buffett rule" would generate, but cuts in spending for social programs such as Head Start proposed by Republicans would have even smaller effects on the federal deficit while seriously impacting the most vulnerable members of society.

How much would the 30 percent of millionaires who would be affected by the "Buffett rule" really suffer?

Robert Blake is a Columbia resident and a retired family physician.

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Jimmy Bearfield April 19, 2012 | 11:43 a.m.

How much would, say, urologists and cardiologists really suffer if their income were reduced to $100K? They'd still make more than double the national average, and the cap on their earnings would help make health care affordable for more people.

Any takers?

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith April 19, 2012 | 12:58 p.m.

What I would absolutely want to see is if such a stricture could be imposed, how many NEW urologists, cardiologists, surgeons, etc. would be moving INTO the system in the next 20 years? Would there be enough to satisfy demand? Has everyone forgotten the condition the Soviet health system was in when the Soviet Union collapsed?

Sorry, I forgot, there are those in the United States who don't want to be reminded what happened to the Soviet health system. Such knowledge might mar their beautiful, abstract vision of how health care should be. :)

Why do people insist on making the same mistakes over and over again?

(Report Comment)
Ron Fauss April 19, 2012 | 1:55 p.m.

So I assume that those whom the rich doctor's wealth has been re-gifted to will help them pay the doctor's student loan bills as well - in excess of $100,000 in a lot of cases?

(Report Comment)
frank christian April 19, 2012 | 3:36 p.m.

This writer, having crunched static numbers, now sees another way to convince the poorer voters that more monies should be extracted from the wealthy, "if all taxes are considered,"...

It is estimated the the Buffet Rule will provide government with 4.7B$ annually. "How much would the 30 percent of millionaires who would be affected by the "Buffett rule" really suffer?" This would be known when this group decides whether the new tax is fair. It is not and my bet is that all the accountants and lawyers available would be put to work to beat it. Liberals readily tell us, this is the case with the evil rich, in other instances. Or, others would just lay back, saving the effort of earning more tax money for our government to waste. Thankfully, enough Democrats have been replaced in our Congress to stop insanity such as this.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt April 19, 2012 | 6:09 p.m.

Ron Fauss said: "So I assume that those whom the rich doctor's wealth has been re-gifted to will help them pay the doctor's student loan bills as well - in excess of $100,000 in a lot of cases?"

Why not? If every person in Missouri contributed 2 cents toward that guy's loans, that's ~$120,000 right there. If every Missourian gave a dollar, that's 50 doctors who could go debt-free.

As far as I've read, the average debt for a med school graduate is actually $180K, but let's round that up to $200K for the sake of argument. In 2010, according to this website...

...there were 691,000 physicians and surgeons in the US, but let's round that up to 700,000 for the sake of argument (and to account for the ~1.5-year difference). So,

700,000 * $200,000 / ~310M = ~$450 = the sum of money each American would have had to pay to basically give every doctor in the US a free education. If we include only adults, that's roughly ~$700 per person--which is indeed a lot of money for a lot of people, but many people out there also spend that much (and more) on toys and gizmos for their children.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams April 19, 2012 | 7:11 p.m.

Jon: No need to round up.

It is indeed ca. $200K. I have first-hand knowledge of this. This value would include some living expenses.

And, it starts accruing 7%. There is no delay pending graduation. This is a recent change. That means the loan will double in ca. 10 years....a great incentive to pay it off ASAP.

If they can.

(Report Comment)
Ron Fauss April 19, 2012 | 10:09 p.m.

My point, again ... you take a greater risk, incur greater expense, why not a higher salary? If you can't get the higher salary and more security, why would you ever take the risk or incur the expense, not to mention the insurance they have to carry (tort reform DEFINITELY needed) ...

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams April 19, 2012 | 10:35 p.m.



Your point has been made many times in this place, but it's always good to see it again. I am a prime example of someone who decided the risk/reward ratio had significantly changed for the worse once I reached the 50% total tax level.

Wasn't worth it. To hell with being a small businessman and living with risks with poor rewards. I'm just not into giving away 50 cents on the dollar.

So, being rather unmotivated, I retired at 52...10.5 years ago.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith April 19, 2012 | 11:27 p.m.

Ron & Michael:

I'd like to join with you on this. When I was diagnosed with cancer in 2003 my first priority was NOT to ask the radiologist for a copy of his last tax Form 1040 or his diploma but to determine the level of his experience and his track record. I would do the same if seeking legal services, engineering services, etc.

I ended up with a good radiologist.

(Report Comment)

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