Media Darling Warren Buffett Barks Up Estate Tax Tree

The billionaire-turned-populist beloved by the media is in Washington telling Congress to keep taxes high.

Warren Buffett, ranked as the 21st most influential liberal in the United States by the Telegraph (U.K.), appeared before the Senate Finance Committee November 14 to make his case against the repeal of the estate tax. And he used a very abnormal circumstance as his evidence.

Leona Helmsley, a billionaire hotel and real estate mogul known as the "Queen of Mean," died in August. It was discovered after her death that she named her dog, Trouble, in her will.

"Leona Helmsley's dog, Trouble, reportedly is inheriting $12 million," Buffett said. "If Mrs. Helmsley's estate is within the 45-percent bracket, Trouble could instead receive $22 million if the estate tax was removed."

The "Oracle of Omaha" also demonstrated wealth hasn't affected his propensity to perform mathematics.

"Alternatively, just from Trouble's share of the Helmsley's estate tax, 10,000 families making less than $20,000 annually could receive $1,000 each to make their lives a bit better," Buffet added.

However, there was a case of mistaken sex when it came to Helmsley's doggy heir. Trouble, a female white Maltese, was referred to by Buffett as "he" throughout the testimony.

"Even though Trouble probably heard Leona say, quote, ‘Only the little people pay taxes,' end quote, I don't think he would mind the estate paying $10 million for him to get his $12 million," Buffett said.

But, why does Buffett think this is important?

"We need to raise about 20 percent of the GDP to fund the programs the American people want from the national government," Buffett said. "Further shifting of this requirement away from the super-rich is not the way to go."

The media have had a love affair with Buffett, often citing his desire for the rich to pay higher taxes.