Minimum Wage: Warren Buffett Says He'd Love to See $15 an Hour

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Tuesday, 04 Mar 2014 08:12 AM

By Michael Mullins

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Warren Buffett said minimum wage should be $10.10 per hour, the rate proposed by President Barack Obama earlier this year, but added that it should be even higher than that.

The billionaire said that in an ideal world, the rate would be $15 an hour, though he acknowledges such a hike would likely result in staggering job losses and have other negative impacts on America's working poor.

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In an interview with CNBC on Monday, the Oracle of Omaha addressed the minimum wage debate and different ways in which the government can help the nation's working poor, such as by raising the Earned Income Tax Credit, which would give more tax money back to individuals in low income brackets.

"If you could have a minimum wage of $15 and it didn't hurt anything else, I would love it," Buffett said. "But clearly that isn't the case."

"I think you can accomplish way more through the earned income tax credit without negative effects," Buffett added.

In January, during his State of the Union address, the president announced his plan to increase the current federal minimum wage, $7.25 an hour, to $10.10 an hour over a three-year period. This would be a near 40 percent increase.

Almost as quickly as the announcement was embraced by Democrats, the proposal was met with derision from Republicans, who cited a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report that found such a minimum wage increase would cost the economy 1 million jobs by late 2016.

In typical Buffett fashion, the 83-year-old business tycoon, who has an estimated net worth of more than $58 billion, said he didn't believe the studies put forth on either side of the political spectrum.

"It's very hard to quantify those trade-offs," Buffett told CNBC. "People come out with these exact studies. They don't know. Usually you just get proponents of the two sides pulling out figures that substantiate their positions."

Known for his philanthropy, Buffett has long argued that the government should do more to bridge the ever-widening income gap between America's wealthy and poor, adding, "that's something a very rich country should address."

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