The president reminded us that very rich Warren Buffett thinks the rich should pay higher taxes, for which the Sage of Omaha has won great praise. Yet it is important to remember that Buffett, like all investors, pays corporate income tax through the companies he owns. These taxes eat into Buffett’s vast fortune, and that’s just fine with me. But corporate taxes also eat into the wages of workers. While the Congressional Budget Office assumes that 100 percent of the burden of corporate taxes fall on the Buffetts of the world, a conservative estimate is that at least 40 percent is borne by labor.
The president did say that he wants to reform the corporate tax code, which is great news. But what kind of reform does he have in mind? Incredibly, the president used a jobs speech to make the case against “tax loopholes for oil companies.” To translate this into language we can all understand, the president is calling for increased taxes on drilling new oil and gas wells. This is despite the fact that we’ve only just unlocked vast amounts of domestic shale gas, an energy source that could reduce our dependence on oil imports and spark a jobs boom. If the central problem facing our country is that we have too many blue-collar jobs in the energy sector and that we rely too heavily on domestic energy sources, one could make a strong case for closing these tax loopholes. But if the opposite is true, as I think it is, this is a counterproductive step.