Warren Buffett proposed a further tax cut for the middle class, upper middle class and lower middle class -- essentially, everyone except the wealthy -- in an interview Tuesday with CNNMoney's Poppy Harlow, at Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit in Washington, DC (Check out more clips atFortune).
The billionaire investor, who, with a roughly $45 billion net worth, is the country's second richest person (behind Bill Gates), also said the government should raise taxes on the richest 2 percent of the country. That particular message was nothing new: He's been saying for years that the rich need to bear a greater share of the tax burden. Buffett reiterated Tuesday that he has the lowest tax rate of anybody in his Omaha office, even despite the fact that he doesn't have a tax shelter. But his tax cut proposal was new.
"I think maybe we should cut taxes for the middle class," he said. "Upper middle class [and] lower middle class."
Taxing the rich, he said, is the best way for the government to boost its income.
"The question is, Do we get more money from the person that's gonna serve me lunch today, or do we get it from me? I think we should get it from me," he said.
Those who want to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy, which will expire at year's end, say heavy taxes will hurt small businesses, many of which are run by wealthy individuals. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) have said tax hikes for the rich would affect half of all small business income. Of course, that depends on how you define "small business."
Buffett responded to that argument by saying the government needs to close the deficit somehow, and if it doesn't tax the rich, it will have to delay paying back its debt -- which amounts to borrowing from the larger economy.
"If you get a hundred billion more of taxes -- just pick a number -- from people like me at the top, it means you borrow a hundred billion less out of the economy. Somebody's gonna come up with a hundred billion," he said. "You're taking the money from the economy either way. The only question is if you take it by borrowing or by taxes."
WATCH the interview below:
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