Excuse me, Warren, your hypocrisy is showing.
WASHINGTON — As the parties battle over taxes, the deficit and economic inequality, two arguments that have been marshaled to advocate for the Democratic position are that taxpayers should not be subsidizing private jet travel and that Warren Buffett’s tax bill is way too low — lower, Democrats and Buffett himself have repeatedly noted, than his secretary’s.
Buffett’s belabored secretary has become such a ubiquitous gambit in the tax debate that she was invited to attend the president’s State of the Union address as an honored guest. Buffett’s pleading with Congress to hike his tax rate has grown so incessant that Republicans routinely suggest the Omaha billionaire should simply, as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie put it, “write a check and shut up.”
But when a Buffett company had a chance to tackle both problems, it chose to do the opposite. And it spent handsomely on K Street to get it done.
Berkshire Hathaway-owned NetJets Inc. spent more than $2.5 million on a squadron of lobbyists who successfully crafted tax legislation to benefit a handful of private jet companies, according to a HuffPost analysis of lobbying disclosure records.
The Federal Aviation Administration Modernization and Reform Act passed in February after wending its way through Congress over much of the last decade. The bill provides a broad overhaul of national aviation, which includes improving runway safety standards and funding aviation safety research. The bill also advances NextGen, a program to replace the aging radar system with GPS, which the FAA says will reduce delays, accidents and air pollution.
The key tax provision at issue was part of legislation aimed at modernizing the infrastructure of the aviation industry. The law carved out fractionally owned private jets from commercial jets, meaning that companies like NetJets will pay lower taxes over the next four years than they do today. According to the lobbying disclosure records, NetJets spent more than $1.5 million lobbying to win that specific provision alone.