Irony: Buffett Secretary and Obama Stage Prop Could Be Making Up to $500K a Year

Posted by on Jan 25, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Raise your hand if you’re as sick of this woman as we are.  A willing prop in a cheap class warfare game, and here she is likely living larger than most Americans.

Warren Buffet’s secretary, Debbie Bosanek, served as a stage prop for President Obama’s State of the Union speech. She was the President’s chief display of the alleged unfairness of our tax system – a little person paying a higher tax rate than her billionaire boss.

Bosanek’s prominent role in Obama’s “fairness” campaign piqued my curiosity, and I imagine the curiosity of others. How much does her boss pay this downtrodden woman? So far, no one has volunteered this information.

More of that transparency we’ve come to know and love.

Insofar as Buffet (like Mitt Romney) earns income primarily from capital gains, which are taxed at 15 percent (and according to Obama need to be raised for reasons of fairness), we need to determine how much income a taxpayer like Bosanek must earn in order to pay an average tax rate above fifteen percent. This is easy to do.

The IRS publishes detailed tax tables by income level. The latest results are for 2009. They show that taxpayers earning an adjusted gross income between $100,000 and $200,000 pay an average rate of twelve percent. This is below Buffet’s rate; so she must earn more than that. Taxpayers earning adjusted gross incomes of $200,000 to $500,000, pay an average tax rate of nineteen percent. Therefore Buffet must pay Debbie Bosanke a salary above two hundred thousand.

We must wait for further details to learn how much more than $200,000 she earns. The tax tables tell us about average ranges. For all we know she earns closer to a half million each year, but that is pure speculation.

Let’s comb through her personal tax records while we’re at it.  C’mon, Debbie, you want to play Obama’s game, then let’s see what you’re hiding.

Curious how Obama has been babbling about this woman for about a year now and none of those vaunted Washington reporters ever bothered to do a little background on Bosanek.

Just for one example, remember how quickly Joe the Plumber was vetted by the media?

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8 Responses to “Irony: Buffett Secretary and Obama Stage Prop Could Be Making Up to $500K a Year”

  1. epobirs on 25/25/12 at 8:27 pm

    This reminds me of the Richard Pryor & Chevy Chase job interview sketch on SNL decades ago: “Mr. Wilson, you’ll be the highest paid janitor in America. Just please don’t hurt me.”

  2. epobirs on 25/25/12 at 8:36 pm

    I’d expect a billionaire’s secretary to be very well paid, just as a security matter. Such a person needs to be very loyal. So you’d also expect her to be in a higher tax bracket than the majority of US citizens. Heck, plenty of the older secretaries I’ve dealt with for IT work make far more than me. If your boss earns in the mere seven digits and you’re integral to his day to day operations, you should be making at least a high five digit salary, possibly six.

    Add a few more digits and the question becomes when the secretary is crossing the million dollar line in annual compensation. Does Ms. Bosanek get a break on Berkshire Hathaway stock?

    This stuff is obvious to a moment’s consideration. Are Obama followers that painfully obtuse?

  3. holygoat on 25/25/12 at 9:25 pm

    epobirs, that makes sense, but Obama and Buffet want us to believe she’s making an average salary for her job title: Secretary. How many people think of “secretary” as a six-figure position?

  4. Steve S. on 25/25/12 at 9:33 pm

    If she’s a good, common taxpayer, she will have a lot of the usual deductions. Assuming she files MFJ:
    $23,000 401k including the over-50 catch-up
    $10,000 property tax deduction
    $8,000 State tax deduction
    $7,000 personal exemption (self plus hubby, kids are gone)
    $6,000 pre-tax medical insurance
    $10,000 charitable deduction (because she’s nice)
    $6,000 Interest & dividend income

    That’s $70,000 without even breaking a sweat. And who knows what else? Yeah, I made these numbers up – kinda sorta based on my own circumstances. But if she is making over $200,000 per year, she is going to have $70,000 in deductions. Using the jim-dandy-handy tax tables for 2010, compliments of, taxes on $130,000 are a bit shy of $25,000. That’s around 12.5%. To get above 15% she’d have to be above $250,000 with no other significant tax advantages.

    A billionaire’s secretary might pull that.

  5. Nick Shaw on 26/26/12 at 10:13 am

    She was thrust into the spotlight by her boss and if Zero want’s to make a Buffet Rule, that being, broadly, that a secretary shouldn’t have a higher tax rate (or pay more tax in actual dollars, they seem to desperately want to mix up the two concepts) then the foundation of such a rule must be open to scrutiny!
    What other law or rule has the government ever proposed that does not have a basis for implementation?
    We’re talking about transparency here, right?
    Prove we need a Buffet Rule, turkey!

  6. new2wnc on 26/26/12 at 10:48 am

    If the tax rate on Cap Gains is 15%, and Warren Buffet paid 15.3%, he must have had some compensation other than Cap gains. Salary as a shill perhaps?

    And just what DID his secretary make to pay more than 35%?

    What hypocrisy!