2022: What does Buffett think about a tax on unrealized capital gains?
BECKY QUICK: On that note, let’s go to a question from David Cass.
He writes in, “President Biden’s fiscal 2023 budget request would impose a 20% minimum tax on the unrealized capital gains for households worth at least $100 million. What are your views on this issue?”
And if you don’t want to answer, maybe Charlie does. (Laughter)
WARREN BUFFETT: Well, we’ll find out. (Laughter) And in all honesty, we should both say that we would be affected by it. If it’s $100 million, we’d both be affected. So our point of view is — and I have no point of view. Charlie? I have no point of view that I would want attributed to —
CHARLIE MUNGER: I tend to stay out of the income tax things like this. My policy is I pay whatever taxes they pass, and I don’t want to engage in lobbying about taxes.
WARREN BUFFETT: Yeah. (Applause) And I would add one thing. Lobbying is really distasteful. I once did it for a candidate, and I ended up in a room with a bunch of lobbyists for cigarette companies. They didn’t care about Nebraska. They didn’t care about — and they didn’t have anything. They were there because they were handing over a contribution. And I was a convenient accessory. And, you know, it made you want to throw up, basically.
On the other hand, we operate in the railroad business, energy business, insurance business, and they’re extensively regulated. And I don’t also want to be the only railroad that stays out of the railroad group. The only insurance company that stays out of the insurance group.
So, you know, other people can rightly figure that we’re a free rider under those circumstances. So I tell the managers generally, you know, “Don’t spend Berkshire’s money on candidates that you like. Don’t pressure suppliers to do —” Berkshire is not a weapon to use — and it’s been used by certain people in the organization. But don’t use it to muscle money out of anybody else for who you like or what school your wife went to or whatever it may be. And some of it goes on anyway.
But I don’t tell our people to don’t belong to any trade associations. Charlie wrote one of the great letters of all time, and if you go to search, type in I think 1989 Munger savings and loan or something. We resigned from the U.S. Savings and Loan League, I guess it was.
And we warned them. We said, “We just cannot stand, you know, what you’re doing to the country.” And when a bunch of very nice people get together, but they decided it’s in the interest of their savings and loan to do this or that.
And we warned them, and finally Charlie wrote a letter, which is, like I say, available on search. And it should be one of the proudest letters — certainly one of the proudest letters that’s ever come out of Berkshire. And he just said, “We can’t stand it anymore, and we’re resigning.”
But that’s a very tough thing to do. It’s a tough way to live, to just go around criticizing (Laughs) the people you work with, and neighbors. And they’re perfectly decent people, but they’re running institutions that are doing things that are very distasteful to them.
And we belong, support some of our subsidiaries in energy. And, you know, I don’t want to find people are doing it for personal reasons. I mean in that case, they’re in trouble. But I don’t say they can’t do it, because I don’t want their hands tied if something comes up, and essentially either their competitors within the industry or the industry (UNINTEL), we’re not going to stand alone and say, “Well, we’re morally superior, so you put your money up and buy it.” So that’s where I end up. Charlie?
CHARLIE MUNGER: I’ve got nothing to add.
WARREN BUFFETT: OK. Never bothers me when I don’t have anything to add, but he seems stuck on that. (Laughs)
Anyway. Becky, did that come from you?
BECKY QUICK: It did.
WARREN BUFFETT: Yeah, OK.