Buffett Blasts Washington for 'Silly' Game of 'Russian Roulette'
Published: Thursday, 7 Jul 2011 | 8:01 AM ET Text Size
By: Alex Crippen
Warren Buffett tells CNBC that Congress is playing a "silly" game of "Russian roulette" by threatening not to raise the nation's debt limit as it debates deficit reduction. "We should be more grown up than that."
In a live interview on Squawk Box from Sun Valley, Idaho, where he's attending the annual Allen & Co. media conference, Buffett warned of "enormous disruption" if there's no deal to raise the U.S. debt limit.
What would happen if the Treasury does get to the point where it has run out of money?
"Nobody knows. I mean the odds are very good that people will assume we'll get things straightened out within a few days and nothing dramatic would happen. On the other hand, you're playing with fire when you don't need to play with fire. We don't need to tell the rest of the world that anytime people in Congress start throwing a tantrum that we're not going to pay our bills."
Buffett tells Becky Quick that the country's bills will be paid one way or the other, and Congress should address the situation with "maturity."
In Buffett's view, the country shouldn't be making such crucial decisions "at the point of a gun."
He suggests that corporate America could help prevent a U.S. default by pre-paying its September quarterly taxes. Berkshire, he says, could pre-pay $3 billion to the Treasury.
As for changing a tax code that has "not been shaped by logic," Buffett repeats his long-standing advice: "I would go after the very rich." But, he says, it would take a combination of "leadership and outrage" to make significant changes when those who benefit from a particular aspect of the code will fight strongly to retain that advantage.