Warren Buffett is a brilliant investor, and he's a wily gamesman, too. In an interview with Time magazine, he offered to match the contributions made by Republican members of Congress to pay down the national debt:
"Looking to keep up pressure on the GOP, billionaire investor Warren Buffett indicated in an interview with Time magazine that he would match any contribution to the U.S. government made by Republican members of Congress.
'If we go to a contribution system, I'll match the total contribution made by all Republican members of Congress. And I'll even go three for one for McConnell,' Buffett told Time, referring to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ken."
The Oracle of Omaha's pledge came after McConnell told David Gregory on NBC's Sunday morning news show Meet the Press that Buffett could write a check if he was feeling guilty about paying too little federal income tax. In Buffett's world, that's calling someone's bluff. Literally, it means put up or shut up. Talking among themselves, businesspeople use another axiom to convey the same message: money talks and bulls**t walks.
Buffett knows something that voters should take into account as they consider candidates running for office in 2012. Members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats, are responsible for the fiscal mess that our country is in. Presidents must sign off on legislation, but Congress has the power to stop wasteful and excessive spending. Until Barack Obama became president, Republican members of Congress were perfectly willing to go along with spending measures that made no sense, and they didn't hesitate to engage in deficit spending. The two Republican leaders in Congress, Mitch McConnell in the Senate and John Boehner (R-Ohio) in the House, could have and should have spoken up before the 2010 election during which voters finally let it be known that they had had enough of profligate government spending and ushered in a new breed of conservative.
It's easy to understand why Buffett is perturbed with the likes of McConnell and Boehner now as they present themselves to the public as champions of conservatism. Their voting records don't match their rhetoric. Voters across the fruited plain should be as concerned as Buffett is, and they should realize that the housecleaning in Congress isn't finished yet. In fact, we still have a long way to go before the majority in Congress gets the message. The 2012 election isn't only about electing someone besides Barack Obama. Electing fiscally conservative senators and representatives is just as important.
Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia. His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily. His latest book is titled If You Voted for Obama in 2008 to Prove You're Not a Racist, You Need to Vote for Someone Else in 2012 to Prove You're Not an Idiot.