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OFF BEAT: Warren Buffett writes check to help pay down national debt

Posted On: Jan. 20, 2012 12:00 AM CST

Billionaire investor and Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett soon will be cutting a check for more than $49,000 after his challenge to pay down the national debt was accepted by a U.S. congressman.

Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va., accepted Mr. Buffett’s promise to match voluntary contributions to reduce the national deficit, which Mr. Buffett last week announced as a challenge in Time Magazine.

Mr. Buffett’s remarks that the super rich should pay higher taxes spurred critics to quip that if Mr. Buffett thinks he’s not taxed enough, he should send in a check, according to news reports.

“If we go to a contribution system—I'll match the total contribution made by all Republican members of Congress, and I'll even go three for one with (Senate Minority Leader Mitch) McConnell,” Mr. Buffet said to Time Magazine.

In a letter last week to Mr. Buffett, Rep. Rigell “gladly” accepted the “generous offer” by voluntarily contributing 15% of his congressional salary to pay down the debt, which amounted to $23,103 in 2011 and approximately $26,100 in 2012.

"Though we differ on tax policy, as fellow Americans and businessmen I know that we share this common bond: a deep concern over the state and trajectory of our country's finances,” Rep. Rigell wrote.

Mr. Buffett responded to Rep. Rigell in a letter, writing that he’s “delighted” to match the congressman’s 2011 and 2012 contributions.

“You are the first to respond, but I hope your action spurs an intramural rivalry between Republicans and Democrats,” Mr. Buffett said in his letter. “This would be a form of competition between two parties that the American public would applaud.”

Mr. Buffett said he plans to send the check after April 20 to see if anyone else accepts the challenge.