Warren Buffett on Class Warfare, ‘It’s My Class, the Rich Class, Making War, And We’re Winning’?

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Claim:

Multi-Billionaire Warren Buffett said, “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

On July 9, 2024, Snopes received reader mail asking if U.S. billionaire investor and philanthropist Warren Buffett once said, “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

The reader’s interest in the quote appeared to stem from a recent popular Facebook post. The More Perfect Union Facebook page published a meme featuring the quote on July 6. The post received over 15,000 shares in three days.

Online posts and memes clamed Warren Buffett once said the words, there's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning.

After More Perfect Union posted the meme, other users reposted the same image on Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, Threads and X. Some quote-collecting websites also previously published the quote with Buffett’s name.

Finding the Origins of the Quote

The quote originated in a Nov. 26, 2006, article written by actor and economist Ben Stein for The New York Times. Stein attributed the quote to his conversation with Buffett. He also included some context not included in memes and posts.

Stein’s story for the Times began:

NOT long ago, I had the pleasure of a lengthy meeting with one of the smartest men on the planet, Warren E. Buffett, the chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, in his unpretentious offices in Omaha. We talked of many things that, I hope, will inspire me for years to come. But one of the main subjects was taxes. Mr. Buffett, who probably does not feel sick when he sees his MasterCard bill in his mailbox the way I do, is at least as exercised about the tax system as I am.

Put simply, the rich pay a lot of taxes as a total percentage of taxes collected, but they don’t pay a lot of taxes as a percentage of what they can afford to pay, or as a percentage of what the government needs to close the deficit gap.

Stein described a data sheet Buffett organized to calculate tax percentages of the people working in his office. Stein wrote, “The numerator was how much they paid in federal income tax and in payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare, and the denominator was their taxable income.”

According to Stein, the results of the data sheet left Buffett recognizing he paid “far, far less as a fraction of his income” than the other people working in his office. Stein recalled Buffett’s reaction, which included the quote featured in memes and posts nearly two decades later:

Further, in conversation it came up that Mr. Buffett doesn’t use any tax planning at all. He just pays as the Internal Revenue Code requires. “How can this be fair?” he asked of how little he pays relative to his employees. “How can this be right?”

Even though I agreed with him, I warned that whenever someone tried to raise the issue, he or she was accused of fomenting class warfare.

“There’s class warfare, all right,” Mr. Buffett said, “but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

We contacted by phone a representative with Buffett’s company Berkshire Hathaway to ask for further details about the quote and will update this story if we receive more information.

For further reading, we previously reported about the origins and context of another quote to find out if it also truly originated with Buffett. That other quote read, “If you don’t like paying taxes, make billionaires pay their fair share and you would never have to pay taxes again.”

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