Warren Buffett, whose political fraud and deceptively misleading statements about his secretary’s tax rate launched this “tax unfairness” debate, today stonewalled the press, refusing to release any information about his secretary’s earnings or tax returns.
According to today’s Omaha World-Herald “Debbie Bosanek and her boss both declined Thursday to disclose how much she’s paid, saying it’s private.”
The increasingly defensive and partisan Buffett offered these thoughts:
“They can’t attack the facts, so they attack the person. It’s ridiculous.”
Buffett’s problem–and his secretary’s for that matter–is that they made a public statement about her taxes that is either demonstrably untrue or intentionally misleading. The facts they’ve offered don’t add up, and they refuse to offer evidence that could clarify and support their argument.
As a reminder, here’s the claim Buffett and his secretary, Debbie Bosanek, have made: “Bosanek pays a tax rate of 35.8 percent of income, while Buffett pays a rate at 17.4 percent.”
Had Mr. Buffett made such an imprecise statement about the financial results of the publicly traded company he controls, Berkshire-Hathaway, financial journalists around the world would be howling with indignation. It’s partial information, intentionally vague, designed to mislead. And publicly traded companies get in big trouble for that.
This is politics, however, and Mr. Buffett–and his secretary–apparently believe that different standards of truth apply to the political world.
Welcome to the political arena, Mr. Buffett, and Ms. Bosanek. You’re about to learn that you will be held to the same standards of truth and transparency you’re bound by in the business arena. So, step up to the plate, and release your tax returns so we can investigate the veracity of your claims about the taxes you both pay.
Michael Patrick Leahy is the editor of the Voices of the Tea Party e-book series, co-founder of the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition, and co-organizer of Election Day Tea Party 2012. His new book, Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement, will be published by Broadside Books in spring, 2012. He can be reached on Twitter at @michaelpleahy .