Web Desk: Billionaire Warren Buffett pitched his support behind Hillary Clinton during a campaign stop on Wednesday in Omaha, Nebraska, saying that he and the Democratic presidential candidate share a commitment to helping the less affluent.
Introducing Clinton at the rally, Buffett recited statistics about how incomes for the wealthiest people in the U.S. have gone up seven-fold during the last two decades, as their tax rates have fallen. While Buffett said he doesn’t condemn the rich, he said the odds were stacked in their favor.
“That’s a primary reason — there’s a lot of other reasons, but it’s a primary reason — why I’m going to be so delighted when Secretary Clinton takes the oath of office,” Buffett said. “She will never forget the people who haven’t shared the same way” in the nation’s prosperity.
The event Wednesday was a rare appearance for Buffett at a political rally. It followed a fundraiser earlier Wednesday at Omaha’s Happy Hollow country club, where the candidate and billionaire appeared in conversation in front of about 190 people who donated at least $500 to her campaign to attend, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the event was private.
The gatherings were the culmination of a long evolution for Buffett. The son of a Republican U.S. congressman, he started shifting his allegiance to Democrats decades ago. In 2008, he backed both Clinton and President Barack Obama in the primaries. And he has since gotten more involved, increasing his donations to candidates and speaking out publicly.
On Wednesday, he also took a few jabs at the Republican Party, likening their debates to a comedy routine.
“I’ve listened to all the Republican debates,” he said. “I mean I used to love Abbott and Costello, people like that. This is really, I’m reliving my youth, I mean, vaudeville was never this good.”
He also singled out Republican front-runner Donald Trump for bragging “every five minutes” about how smart he is.
“Incidentally, I went to Wharton, too,” Buffett said, referring to the University of Pennsylvania’s business school, which Trump attended. “And I left after two years to go to the University of Nebraska.”
Buffett became one of the richest people in the world by building Berkshire Hathaway Inc. into a sprawling conglomerate. In addition to holding major stakes in companies like Coca-Cola Co. and Wells Fargo & Co., his company owns insurers, electric utilities, retailers, manufacturers and a railroad.
After Buffett’s remarks, Clinton emphasized that she and the billionaire agree that the wealthy need to pay more in taxes. Four years ago, Buffett lent his name to President Obama’s proposal that would implement an effective tax rate of at least 30 percent on households earning $1 million or more annually.
“I’m gonna fight hard to implement the Buffett Rule,” Clinton said Wednesday, in reference to that measure. “I want to go even further, because Warren is right, as usual,” she added. Clinton, a former secretary of state and U.S. senator, has also pledged not to raise taxes on families making less than $250,000 a year.
The Democratic front-runner last week began rolling out her proposals on corporate taxes, pledging to work to stop inversions and earnings stripping, both practices involving shifting profits overseas. But, with Buffett sitting on stage behind her, she made no mention of those ideas. Buffett was involved with one of those maneuvers last year when he helped finance Burger King’s merger with Canada’s Tim Hortons.