Commentary Magazine


Topic: Debbie Bosanek

Buffett’s Overtaxed, Underpaid Secretary

In case the nation had not yet heard quite enough about Warren Buffett’s secretary, Debbie Bosanek, she is back in the news. To her credit, it was due to an appearance at a charitable event. And, no, this time it wasn’t to do with her earning no ordinary secretarial salary. Rather, it was a particular comment she made in a scripted performance that merits brief attention.

She came onstage to list in jest the five things she would buy with the extra money she would accrue by falling into Buffett’s tax bracket, a bemusing statement noted by the host, who proceeded to clarify:

Host: Wait, wait, wait. I thought Warren [Buffett] wanted to get more people into the upper [tax] bracket?

Bosanek: I’ll take the lower bracket, thank you. Read More

In case the nation had not yet heard quite enough about Warren Buffett’s secretary, Debbie Bosanek, she is back in the news. To her credit, it was due to an appearance at a charitable event. And, no, this time it wasn’t to do with her earning no ordinary secretarial salary. Rather, it was a particular comment she made in a scripted performance that merits brief attention.

She came onstage to list in jest the five things she would buy with the extra money she would accrue by falling into Buffett’s tax bracket, a bemusing statement noted by the host, who proceeded to clarify:

Host: Wait, wait, wait. I thought Warren [Buffett] wanted to get more people into the upper [tax] bracket?

Bosanek: I’ll take the lower bracket, thank you.

Indeed, like the host, we were under the impression that, in Buffett’s – and Obama’s – vision, Bosanek’s (or, at least, the lower salaried taxpayers she is meant to represent) tax rate would remain as it is, and the novelty was the ‘‘Buffett rule,’’ a millionaires’ tax designed solely to raise the rate for high earners. Although the entire Buffett affair was, as far as Obama was concerned, about ‘‘fairness,’’ and raising Buffett’s tax rate and lowering Bosanek’s does not contradict that objective (as the president understands it), that never appeared to be the idea. Indeed, to reduce the tax rate for lower earners could obviate the need for a millionaires’ tax, based on the ”fairness” rationale.

Either way, the takeaway here is that neither the lower earners (whom Bosanek is meant to represent) nor the higher earners (of whom Bosanek, despite her apparent credentials, is almost certainly one) want to pay more taxes. Everyone would prefer a lower tax bracket. Of course we already knew this, but it’s amusing to hear it from one of the saga’s stars herself.

Perhaps in jest Buffett’s secretary is teaching President Obama a profound lesson: fairness is not in paying more to the government for expensive services of dubious quality, but in having more of one’s own hard-earned money to use as one sees fit. In a similar vein, as she put it, with the extra cash will she be able to purchase ‘‘a brand new iMac so I can stop using those crappy PCs [Buffett] gets from Bill Gates.’’

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