Warren Buffett

10 things you need to know today: July 16, 2014

A woman cries as Palestinians flee their homes in Gaza.

A woman cries as Palestinians flee their homes in Gaza. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

The Week

Israel resumes air strikes after Hamas rejects cease-fire, Buffett gives away a record $2.8 billion, and more

1. Israel launches more air strikes after Hamas rejects truce
Israel resumed its air strikes in Gaza on Tuesday after Hamas, which runs the Palestinian territory, rejected a cease-fire plan proposed by Egypt and approved by Israel’s security cabinet. Israel warned that Hamas “would pay the price,” and urged tens of thousands of Palestinians to leave their homes in northern and eastern Gaza, suggesting their neighborhoods would be targeted next. A fresh barrage of rockets from Gaza killed one Israeli man. [The Dallas Morning News]

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2. Buffett gives his biggest annual charity gifts ever
Investment billionaire Warren Buffett donated a record $2.8 billion in securities to charity this year, according to a report to the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday. The contributions, which went to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and four Buffett family foundations, brought his contributions to $18.7 billion over the eight years since he pledged to give nearly half of his wealth to the foundations in annual gifts. [Omaha World-Herald]

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3. Typhoon kills 10 in the Philippines
At least 10 people were killed on Tuesday when a powerful typhoon struck the Philippines. Typhoon Rammasun, the strongest storm to hit the Philippines this year, knocked down trees, telephone wires, and power lines as it cut across the main island, Luzon, south of Manila on Wednesday. [Reuters]

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4. Officials impose fines for wasting water in California
California authorities approved drastic new water conservation measures on Tuesday to help the state handle historically low levels of rainfall this year. The new rules include fines of up to $500 per day for watering a garden, washing a car, or rinsing a sidewalk. Gov. Jerry Brown had already declared a drought emergency. “People don’t understand the gravity of the drought,” State Water Resources Control Board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus said. [The New York Times]

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5. Nigeria catches a top Boko Haram commander
Nigerian police said Tuesday they had arrested a top Boko Haram commander, Mohammed Zakari. Police spokesman Frank Mba said Zakari, 30, was wanted in the recent killings of seven people. Nigeria has launched a push to round up members of Boko Haram, which is fighting to establish a state under sharia law. Boko Haram has been blamed for kidnapping hundreds of schoolgirls in recent months. [Xinhua]

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6. Survey finds that 2.3 percent of Americans are gay or bisexual
About 2.3 percent of U.S. adults are gay or bisexual, according to the annual National Health Interview Survey, which was released Tuesday. Gay or bisexual men and women far more likely to suffer anxiety or engage in self-destructive behavior than their straight peers. It was the first time questions about sexual orientation were asked in the annual survey. [Al Jazeera]

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7. Police free hundreds of abused children from group home in Mexico
Mexican police rescued 452 boys and girls from a children’s home where they were allegedly sexually abused and forced to beg in the streets. More than 130 adults were also rescued. The owner of House of the Big Family facility in the state of Michoacan was arrested along with eight employees. “I’m in utter dismay because we weren’t expecting the conditions we found at the group home,” local governor Salvador Jara said. [BBC News]

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8. SpaceX gets approval for private spaceport
The Federal Aviation Administration has granted approval to Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, to build the nation’s first private rocket-launching site, in Cameron County, Texas. SpaceX wants its own launch facility to give it more control so it can meet its ambitious schedule. It plans to send up 12 rockets a year from the site. The company plans to use the site to launch the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy orbital vertical launch vehicles, and other rockets. [Space.com]

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9. Jon Stewart tries to get Hillary to reveal her 2016 plans
Hillary Clinton withstood a grilling by Jon Stewart on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, but she avoided shedding any light on whether she had decided to run for president again in 2016. The appearance came as Clinton wrapped up a tour to promote her book, but Stewart joked: “She’s here solely for one reason: to publicly and definitively declare her candidacy for President of the United States.” Clinton did say she wanted an office with “fewer corners.” [CNN]

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10. Jeter helps the American League win his last All-Star game
The American League beat the National League 5-3 in the 85th annual MLB All-Star game on Tuesday night. This year’s game was the last for New York Yankees star shortstop Derek Jeter and MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, both of whom are retiring at the end of the season. Jeter got a three-minute ovation when he left the game in the fourth inning after getting two hits. “It was a wonderful moment,” Jeter said. [The Boston Globe]

Obama’s Buffett Rule: Just a political gimmick?

President Obama's Buffett Rule, which would tax incomes of $1 million or more at a rate of 30 percent, would raise an extra $47 billion over the next decade.

Following, are three opinions on President Obama’s “Buffet Rule”…

The Week

The president passionately argues that we ought to hike taxes on the very richest Americans — which, if nothing else, is a handy campaign talking point

President Obama has been making a lot of hay about the Buffett Rule. Named after billionaire Warren Buffett, who has famously said he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary, the rule would set a baseline tax rate of 30 percent for yearly incomes over $1 million. The Obama administration says enacting this policy is a matter of economic fairness and common sense, and that it would be the first step toward closing our massive budget deficit. His opponents, however, see nothing more than a cynical campaign ploy. Is the Buffett Rule just smoke and mirrors?

 

It won’t solve the country’s fiscal problems: The Buffett Rule is a “gimmick,” says Dana Milbank at The Washington Post. The Buffett Rule would raise a paltry $47 billion in revenue over the next 10 years, a drop in the bucket compared to our annual $1.2 trillion deficit. It’s too bad Obama “doesn’t use his unrivaled political skill to sell a tax plan of more consequence.”
“Rebuffing Obama’s gimmicky ‘Buffett Rule'”

 

But it does highlight economic inequality: “The Buffett Rule is a compelling symbol” of economic inequality in America, says The New York Times in an editorial. Obama has “persuasively argued that it would be a step toward fairness in a tax code tilted in favor of the wealthiest Americans.” And he has every right to make the “serious and growing problem” of income inequality “a central issue in this year’s campaign.” We hope that the Buffett Rule “is only a start,” and that Obama takes other steps “to ensure that the benefits of economic growth are shared among all Americans.”
“Mr. Obama and the ‘Buffett Rule'”

 

And voters seem to agree with Obama: Polls show that about 60 percent of Americans think the U.S. economic system “favors the wealthy,” says Ari Berman at The Nation. So “it makes no sense to discard a populist message that is clearly resonating among a majority of the electorate.” Obama’s “focus on income inequality has put the GOP on the defensive,” and shifting gears “would be political suicide, not to mention terrible public policy.”
“Why economic populism is a winning strategy for Obama”

Perry Admits His Tax Plan Slams Low-Income People And Lets The Wealthy Pay Nothing

The good news is that Rick Perry’s plan may never come to fruition, thanks in part to his stumbling and bumbling over key issues in this year’s campaign season.  Adios amigo!

Think Progress

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), in his quest to win the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, has released a so-called flat tax plan that would institute a 20 percent income tax rate on everyone (minus a few deductions), while completely eliminating all taxes on investment income.

This, of course, would mean a huge tax increase for those Americans who pay less than 20 percent now, and an immense tax cut for those at the top of the income scale. In fact, according to an analysis by the Tax Policy Center, Perry’s plan would cut taxes for millionaires by nearly $500,000 every year. Meanwhile, a family making $10,000-$20,000 would pay $215 more under the plan, while a family making $20,000-$30,000 would pay nearly $500 more.

During an interview yesterday with the editorial board of the Des Moines Register, Perry essentially admitted that this analysis is correct, affirming that a low-income person with no deductions would pay the full 20 percent while someone living entirely off of investments could conceivably pay nothing:

Q: For somebody who has a home and investments and all that, an income level to have all of that, gets those deductions, but a family that doesn’t then still pays 20 percent on their total income? And I’m describing a low-income family.

PERRY: Right. That is correct. […]

Q: Talk about the difference in where people’s income comes from. The person who works, you know, punches the time clock, they would pay the 20 percent.The person who has the big nest egg from dad or grandpa, whose income derives from capital gains or dividends, would pay nothing?

PERRY: I have a hard time with nothing. I’m sure you could go find an individual or some small number of individuals that meet that characteristic. But again, I don’t think anybody’s going to be able to create a tax system that does not have somewhere an inequity.

When asked if his plan would give millions in tax breaks to the rich, Perry callously replied, “I don’t care about that.” A ThinkProgress analysis found that billionaire investor Warren Buffett could pay as little as 0.2 percent under Perry’s plan. At the same time, Perry not only wants to raise income taxes on lower- and middle-income families, but has come out against extending the expiring payroll tax cut, walloping working families with another $1,000 tax increase next year.

Related articles

Politico’s: The week in one-liners

Politico

The week’s top political quotes…

“John obviously needs to work on his typing skills.” – President Obama making fun of House Speaker John Boehner’s tweet during a Twitter town hall.

“No, I didn’t hear about it. Anything with Twitter, and my mind shuts off.” – Warren Buffett explaining why he didn’t tune in for Obama’s town hall.

“Never underestimate Thaddeus.” – Rep. Thaddeus McCotter’s mom talking up her son who’s running for president.

“I’ve probably been in more fights than the rest of these candidates combined.” – Tim Pawlenty bragging about his tough side.

“And, I hate to say it, but she’s got a little sex appeal too.” –Pawlenty’s adviser Vin Weber making a comment about Michele Bachmann that he later called a mistake.

“Well listen I’m 55 years old, I’ve given birth to five kids and I’ve raised 23 foster kids so that sounds like good news to me.” – Michele Bachmann responding to the “sex appeal” remark.

“I think it will be a really easy decision for me to make.” – Donald Trump musing about jumping back into the presidential race.

“He’s a rotten prick.” –New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney talking about Gov. Chris Christie.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time at CNN.” – Eliot Spitzer addressing the cancellation of his show in a statement.

Time Person Of The Year 2010: Mark Zuckerberg

Huffington Post

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been named Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” for 2010.

At 26, Zuckerberg has put himself on the map not only as one of the world’s youngest billionaires, but also as a prominent newcomer to the world of philanthropy.

Earlier this year, he pledged $100 million over five years to the Newark, N.J. school system. Now, he’s in the company of media titans Carl Icahn, 74, Barry Diller, 68, and others who have joined Giving Pledge, an effort led by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and investor Warren Buffett to commit the country’s wealthiest people to step up their charitable donations.

Zuckerberg owns about a quarter of Facebook’s shares.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke received the honor last year. The 2008 winner was then-President-elect Barack Obama. The 2007 winner was Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Other previous winners have included Bono, President George W. Bush, and Amazon.com CEO and founder Jeff Bezos.

Time’s “Person of the Year” is the person or thing that has most influenced the culture and the news during the past year for good or for ill.