Marcus: If you overtax the rich, jobs aren't created

9:03 AM, Sep 20, 2011   |    comments
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Bernie Marcus (AP File)

ATLANTA -- One of Atlanta's wealthiest businessmen says President Barack Obama's plan to raise taxes on the rich would only serve to slow hiring and slow America's economic recovery.

Monday, President Obama introduced a proposal combining trillion-dollar spending cuts and the closure of tax law loopholes for the rich.

"For us to solve this problem, everybody -- including the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations -- have to pay their fair share," Obama said.

But defining what exactly is a "fair share" and how it should be given is up for debate -- especially among some of America's wealthiest people.

One of the president's biggest supporters for his plan is Warren Buffet, one of the richest men in the nation and chairman of conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway. Buffett gets a huge break on taxes with significantly lower tax rates for capital gains, where much of his income comes from.

"I have a lower tax rate, counting my payroll taxes, than anyone in my office," Buffett said.

Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus agrees the wealthy should pay their fair share, but parts ways with the Berkshire Hathaway CEO from there.

"You have to go in and do a complete restructuring of the tax code, and you have to look at it across the board," Marcus said.

Marcus says the real effort is found by creating jobs. He says that hiking capital gains taxes would actually slow or stop hiring.

"Wealthy people create jobs, and the entire wealth of this country has come out of job creators, and job creation is the name of the game," Marcus said. "Those are the people that count, so you don't want to put them out of business."

"Would you prefer that I built the aquarium or would you prefer the U.S. government built the aquarium?" Marcus asked rhetorically. "Would you prefer that I put money into Grady Stroke Center or would you rather have the government do it?"

Marcus went on to counter Buffet's statements.

"Warren Buffett says take it away," Marcus said. "Warren Buffett has never given money to charity. [For] the first time in his life, he's giving money to Gates to give it away. He doesn't give it away. I've given my money to Shepherd Center. I've given my money away to Emory. I've given my money to medical research. All these things I've done, would you rather me do it or the U.S. government do it?"

Now that the White House has placed its proposal on the table, all eyes now turn to Capitol Hill and what Congress will do with the proposal.

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