We tried to back into an estimate of the income of Warren Buffett’s secretary, Debbie Bosanek, in “Analyze this.” Ms. Bosanek was one of the stars of President Obanma’s State of the Union address. Buffett and Obama portray her as the victim of an unfair tax code.
As I noted in an update to the post, it turns out that Ms. Bosanek reportedly makes about $60,000 a year. When they suggest that she pays 35 percent of her income in federal income taxes, Obama and Buffett are apparently taking her federal marginal tax rate, adding both sides of the payroll tax, and comparing it to what must be Buffett’s effective tax rate. Megan McArdle observed: “That comparison is beyond bizarre.” It is a farcical mistake to take anything these folks say at face value.
Buffetts’s hometown paper tried to follow up on the questions left hanging:
Debbie Bosanek and her boss both declined Thursday to disclose how much she’s paid, saying it’s private.
In an interview with The World-Herald, Buffett also said none of the online guesses about Bosanek’s salary is right, and the critics are missing his point.
“I’m saying she is being treated unfairly in the tax code, as are tens of millions of others, compared to me,” Buffett said. “They shouldn’t change the rates on all the other people. They should change mine.”
The pseudonymous Jim Treacher expertly translates: “No fair asking why we should take his word for any of this. No fair asking why, if he’s so worried about not paying enough taxes, he doesn’t pay the $1 billion — that’s $1,000,000,000 — he already owes. No fair. No fair. Shut up.” Citing Politico, Treacher adds that the White House isn’t much interested in exploring details either. Politico explains that “for the moment, the White House wants to keep the attention focused on Obama’s argument that it’s unfair to tax Buffett’s secretary at a higher rate than her boss.” My translation: The White House wants to keep the propaganda undiluted.