, WASHINGTON, Oct 6 – The United States should tax the wealthy more, billionaire investor Warren Buffett, the world\’s third-richest man, told a gathering of high-powered women at Fortune\’s Most Powerful Women Summit.
"We\’re going to need 20 percent or thereabouts of GDP to fund the kinds of things that we all believe are right to have in this country, and we\’ve got to get it from somebody," said Buffett, one of just a few men invited to the conference.
"If you\’re not going to get it from guys like me, why should you get it from the guy who serves lunch to them?" he said.
Thanks to tax cuts passed under former president George W. Bush, Buffett said he pays the lowest tax rate of anyone in his office, including "secretaries who answer the phone" and the cleaning lady.
Whether or not to do away with the Bush-era tax cuts has become a hot topic in the run-up to mid-term elections on November 2.
President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies have proposed extending tax cuts introduced by the Bush administration for two years, but not for households earning over 250,000 dollars a year.
Republicans argue that neither rich nor poor deserve to see their taxes go up, and vowed last month in their "Pledge to America" to stop the Democrats\’ "job-killing tax hikes."
A vote on extending the Bush tax cuts will not happen until after the elections.
Buffett said the US tax system should be reconfigured to make it fairer.
"The tax system should do something, in my view, when you have an enormously prosperous economy – and bear in mind we have over 45,000 dollars of GDP per capita in the United States – so that the people who go to Iraq and Afghanistan and get the short straw in life benefit in this cornucopia of prosperity that we have," he said.
"I pay a lower tax rate than probably the cleaning lady that comes in," thanks to the Bush-era tax cuts, said Buffett, chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway, a conglomerate holding company based in Omaha, Nebraska.
"And that just isn\’t the way the system should work," he said.