Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has a challenge for congressional Republicans: For every dollar one donates to Uncle Sam to help pay down the debt, he will match it. Buffett will even triple every donation sent it by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.
Buffett issued the challenge in an interview with Time magazine in response to the fact that Republicans won't raise taxes for billionaires -- but they've said they'd be happy to accept Buffett's donations.
In a New York Times op-ed last August, Buffett lamented that in 2010, he paid only 17.4 percent of his taxable income to the government -- even though middle class earners in his office paid between 33 percent and 41 percent. Buffett paid a lower rate in part because a significant part of his income came from investments, which are taxed at a lower rate than wages.
Last year, President Obama proposed a tax policy change inspired by the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. -- dubbed the "Buffett rule" -- to ensure that taxpayers who make over $1 million a year are taxed at the same overall rates as middle class Americans.
Republicans, however, are obstinately opposed to tax the wealthy more, arguing it burdens the people who create jobs. In response to Buffett's complaints about the tax code, McConnell said the billionaire was welcome to "send a check" to the government. South Dakota Republican Sen. John Thune introduced a bill called the "Buffett Rule Act" that would create a line on tax forms so that the rich could donate more than they owed.
"That is a tax policy only a Republican could come up with," Buffett said to Time. "It's kind of touching this faith he has i n the American public, that with a $1.2-or-3 trillion deficit, that he thinks Americans are so wonderfully spirited they would just solve it all by contributions."
Buffett emphasized that his commitment to matching all Republican donations to Treasury coffers is a "firm offer."
McConnell spokesman Don Stewart reminded Time that Republicans want to keep government smaller.
"I look forward to Mr. Buffett matching a healthy batch of checks from those who actually want to pay higher taxes, including congressional Democrats, the president and the DNC," he said.