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Young people (seem to) support Warren Buffett's tax idea

September 26, 2011 |  6:35 am

Warren Buffett President Obama is meeting stiff resistance from Republicans on his proposal to increase taxes for people earning more than $1 million a year.

But here's one group who at first blush appears to support him: Americans younger than 30.

More than 80% of young people support Warren Buffett's call to hike taxes for high-earners, according to a survey by Our Time, a nonprofit group.

The survey was conducted over Facebook -- how else to conduct a survey of young people? -- and the group claims that less than 9% oppose the proposed tax hike while slightly more than 7% favor an across-the-board 15% flat tax for people of all incomes.

In an opinion article that has stirred heated debate, Buffett, the so-called Oracle of Omaha, wrote in the New York Times last month that the George W. Bush-era tax cuts for people earning more than $1 million a year should be done away with.

The billionaire said he paid slightly less than $7 million in taxes last year, which sounds hefty until put into context. That was only 17.4% of his taxable income -- far less than the rate paid by his secretary or any of the other 20 people in his office, he said. Their tax rates ranged from 33% to 41%.

Obama has dubbed his proposal to raise taxes on people earning more than $1 million a year the "Buffett rule."

However, it would be a stretch to say taxation of those people has stirred deep passions among young people.

One woman wrote emotionally about the issue on Our Time's Facebook page: "Our generation has to get 'mad as hell' about how our country is being run and realize that it is US who are going to need to do something about it."

But although a news release from Our Time says the survey was "open" to more than 5,000 of the group's "fans," it appears from the Facebook page that only 154 people actually voted.

The survey respondents don't need a degree in statistics to know that the response rate is hardly a representative sample. And the topic generated only a handful of comments.

Then again, young people probably have a lot more pressing concerns than Buffett's tax idea. Such as getting a job in the current economy or paying off heaping student-loan debt.


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-- Walter Hamilton

Photo: Warren Buffett. Credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images