Christie: Buffett Should ‘Write a Check and Shut Up’

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who called for the nation’s wealthiest people to pay more taxes, should “just write a check and shut up.”

“I’m tired of hearing about it,” Christie told CNN’s Piers Morgan in an interview that aired last night. “If he wants to give the government more money, he’s got the ability to write a check. Go ahead and write it.”

Christie, a 49-year-old first-term Republican known for a blunt and caustic style, has proposed a 10 percent income-tax cut for every New Jersey resident. Democrats who control the Legislature say his plan would favor the rich. A family with a $50,000 annual income would pay $80 less under his plan, while someone earning $1 million would save $7,200, Democrats say.

Democrats “want you to be angry because your neighbor makes more than you do,” Christie said today at a town-hall meeting in Palisades Park. “That’s not the New Jersey I know, and it’s not the America that I know.”

Christie’s comments have brought him national attention. In October, he spurned calls to run for president, and has endorsed former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

The New Jersey chief executive has called a lawmaker “numbnuts,” urged reporters to “take the bat out” on a 76-year-old legislator and called union leaders “political thugs.”

Buffett, the 81-year-old chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A), has urged Congress to raise taxes on millionaires to cut the U.S. deficit. In a New York Times op-ed last year, Buffett wrote that his federal income-tax bill was $6.94 million, or 17.4 percent of his taxable income -- a lower rate than any of the other 20 employees in his Omaha, Nebraska, office.

Buffett Rule

Buffett, a Democrat, endured scorn from Republicans last year after he called the Tea Party approach to budget talks “insane” and proposed raising $500 billion by taxing the richest Americans. President Barack Obama has called for a minimum rate of 30 percent for those with incomes of $1 million or more a year and dubbed the idea “the Buffett Rule.”

White House press secretary Jay Carney dismissed Christie’s comment when asked about it today at a briefing.

“That’s a quip that tries to draw attention away from what is a very serious issue, which is the need to have a tax code that’s fair,” Carney said. “Quips aside, we think the Buffett Rule is absolutely an important principle to apply to individual tax reform.”

Pay More Taxes

Christie, during a press briefing in Palisades Park today, repeated that Buffett should pay more taxes if he wants to.

“Cut a check and shut up -- that’s what I say,” Christie said. “I’m tired of hearing it. If he wants to pay more taxes, pay more. I know I’ve given up any chance for post-gubernatorial employment at Berkshire Hathaway.”

Carrie Kizer, Buffett’s assistant, didn’t immediately return an e-mail or telephone call seeking comment on Christie’s statements.

The governor, who vetoed a bill to legalize gay marriage and wants it put to a popular vote, told its supporters last month that blacks would have been pleased to have their civil rights decided that way.

“People would have been happy with a referendum on civil rights rather than fighting and dying in the streets of the South,” Christie told reporters Jan. 24 in Bridgewater.

He was accused of ignorance by leaders including Georgia Representative John Lewis, a civil-rights movement veteran who was beaten by Alabama state troopers. Lewis came to Trenton to denounce the governor, who later apologized.

Jon Stewart, a New Jersey native and host of the satirical Daily Show, lampooned Christie last night for his veto.

“I was very proud last Friday to say the state Legislature, the state where I grew up, voted to legalize gay marriage,” Stewart said. “Unfortunately, like most events in New Jersey, it was immediately thrown off course by a loud Italian guy.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Stacie Servetah in Trenton at sbabula@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: William Glasgall at wglasgall@bloomberg.net

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