Email Calls for The Buffet Rule to Fix Congress-Mostly Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
A chain email that has been in circulation since at least 2011 discusses Warren Buffet’s five-minute plan, known as the “The Buffet Rule,” to fix Congress for good.
During a 2011 interview, Warren Buffet said he could end the federal deficit and fix Congress in less than five minutes using what has become known as “The Buffet Rule” — but Buffet’s reps later said he wasn’t making a serious policy proposal.
Buffet made the comment that gave rise to “The Buffet Rule” email during an interview with CNBC’s Becky Quick. And the comment has since been attached to chain emails and blog posts about the Congressional Reform Act. Recently, the Buffet Rule has begun trending again with claims about the Congressional Reform Act of 2017 (more on that later).
The exchange came during a discussion about the federal deficit and congressional turmoil as Democrats and Republicans faced a budget standoff that later resulted in the federal government temporarily shutting down:
BUFFETT: And that’s a real question and the question is whether you’re better off making decisions on those things at the point of a gun or whether there’s enough maturity in a Congress that they face this, just like they faced 120 percent debt of GDP back after World War II. You know, we’ve got…
BECKY: But these problems — these problems aren’t new. These problems aren’t problems that have built up over decades and there hasn’t been a Congress that’s been mature enough or a president that’s been mature enough to take this head on.
BUFFETT: I can — I can— I can end the deficit in five minutes.
BUFFETT: You just pass a law that says that any time there’s a deficit of more than 3 percent of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election. Yeah. Yeah. Now you’ve got the incentives in the right place, right? So it’s capable of being done. And they’re trying to use the incentive now we’re going to blow your brains out, America, you know, in terms of your— of your— in terms of your debt worthiness over time, and that’s being used as a threat. A more effective threat would be just to say if you guys can’t get it done, we’ll get some other guys to get it down. And incidentally, we had— we had Simpson-Bowles, you know, almost eight or 10 months ago.
Buffet’s “proposal” to pass a law that says sitting members of Congress can’t seek reelection if the federal deficit is more than 3 percent of GDP immediately went viral. It appears that Buffets quote, or at least a version of Buffet’s quote, was attached to the beginning of a chain email about the 2011 Congressional Reform Act that was already in widespread circulation.
However, a representative from Buffet’s Berkshire-Hathaway company later told the Wall Street Journal in an email that Buffet had proposed the “Buffet Rule” to prove a point about the effectiveness good incentives — not to make a serious policy proposal:
In an email, a Berkshire spokeswoman said that the company has heard from quite a few people who have received the chain letter, but that (and this is a shocker) Buffett had never suggested someone start one. In fact, the spokeswoman wrote that he never even meant it as a serious proposal and just wanted to emphasize the importance of proper incentives.
And CNBC later updated a story on Quick’s interview with Buffet to clarify that his proposal would be extremely difficult to carry out because the very people who would lose their jobs because of it (congressmen) would be the ones who’d have to approve it:
An attorney in St. Louis, Jarrad Holst, points out by email that there is a way to enact Buffett’s idea without the cooperation of Congress. Under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, a “Convention for proposing Amendments” is convened when called for by the legislatures of two-thirds of the states. A proposed amendment would then need to be ratified by the legislatures of three-quarters of the states. If that happens, and it is a very, very big if, Buffett’s deficit plan would become the law of the land. That process would, however, take more than five minutes.
And we thoroughly investigated the email’s specific claims about the Congressional Reform Act back in 2011 and found every one of them to be “fiction.” You can read our entire report here. By the end of 2016, however, the rumor was circulating yet again. This time, the exact same points were being attached to the so-called Congressional Reform Act of 2017. So, although emails about the Buffet Rule and the Congressional Reform Act go viral at the beginning of each year, they’re all based on the same claims that are “mostly fiction.”
Warren Buffett, “I could end the deficit in 5 minutes,” he told CNBC. “You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election. The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971…before computers, e-mail, cell phones, etc. Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took 1 year or less to become the law of the land…all because of public pressure.
Warren Buffet [sic] is asking each addressee to forward this email to a minimum of twenty people on their address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise. In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one idea that really should be passed around.
*Congressional Reform Act of 2011*
1. No Tenure / No Pension. A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.
2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security. All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.
3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.
4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.
5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.
6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.
7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12. The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen. Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term’s [sic], then go home and back to work.
If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people then it will only take three days for most people (in the U.S.) to receive the message. Maybe it is time.
THIS IS HOW YOU FIX CONGRESS!!!!! If you agree with the above, pass it on.