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Buffett Shuns Super PAC Contributions While Backing Obama

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Buffett Shuns Super PAC Contributions While Backing Obama
President Obama has been pushing for a “Buffett rule,” setting a minimum federal tax rate of 30 percent for households making more than $2 million a year. Republicans have blocked the measure. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

May 6 (Bloomberg) -- Warren Buffett, the world’s third-richest man and a supporter of President Barack Obama, faulted campaign-finance rules that allow unlimited contributions and said he won’t donate to a super political action committee.

“I don’t want to see democracy go in that direction,” Buffett said yesterday at the annual shareholders meeting of his Berkshire Hathaway Inc. in Omaha, Nebraska. “You have to take a stand some place.”

Super PACs can accept unlimited corporate, union and individual donations. They were made possible by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling that removed limits on corporate and union election spending.

The super PACs are barred from making donations to candidates, and can spend money independently of the campaigns. Supporters of both Obama and Republican front-runner Mitt Romney have created super PACs in an attempt to influence this year’s U.S. presidential election.

Buffett, 81, is a Democrat who has championed causes like abortion rights and the estate tax through his career, and last year he pressed for tax increases on the wealthy. Obama has been pushing for a “Buffett rule,” setting a minimum federal tax rate of 30 percent for households making more than $2 million a year. Republicans have blocked the measure.

“Under the Buffett rule we would have a minimum tax only for these very, very high earners that would restore their rate to back what it was in 1992,” Buffett said at yesterday’s meeting. “It would affect very, very few people.”

Buffett, Berkshire’s chairman and chief executive officer, took questions at the meeting along with Vice Chairman Charles Munger, 88. Buffett was asked if he should mute his political views, prompting applause from some in the crowd at Omaha’s CenturyLink Center.

“When Charlie and I took this job, we did not decide to put our citizenship in a blind trust,” Buffett said.

Munger said Buffett’s role in the tax-police debate “has reduced my popularity around my country club.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Margaret Collins in Omaha at mcollins45@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Kraut at dkraut2@bloomberg.net

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