Billionaire investor Warren Buffett says the United States' economy is doing much better than how presidential candidates are portraying it on the campaign trail. Buffett says they are misleading Americans into believing that the next generation will be worse off than them financially.
"It's an election year, and candidates can't stop speaking about our country's problems (which, of course, only they can solve)," Buffett, chairman of the board of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., wrote in his annual letter to the company's shareholders. "As a result of this negative drumbeat, many Americans now believe that their children will not live as well as they themselves do. That view is dead wrong: The babies being born in America today are the luckiest crop in history."
Buffett, a Hillary Clinton supporter and one of the world's wealthiest men with an estimated net worth in excess of $60 billion, did not call out any of the presidential candidates by name in his letter.
On the campaign trail, Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders and billionaire businessman Donald Trump have offered more scathing assessments of the country's economy than most of their rivals. Fueled by voters' angst and dissatisfaction, both have argued over a system they have said to be rigged against the middle class, despite their key differences on who to blame and how to reform it.
The Sanders campaign has outlined his stance on income and wealth inequality, saying, "The reality is that since the mid-1980s there has been an enormous transfer of wealth from the middle class and the poor to the wealthiest people in this country … That is unacceptable, and that has got to change."
On Trump's campaign site, he says, "$19 trillion of debt and growing is a crushing burden to leave young Americans."
According to a CNN/ORC poll last month, 57 percent of Americans say the country is doing poorly right now, and 56 percent said their children will be worse off financially then they are. A 2013 report by the University of California, Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez found that the gap between the rich and poor is now at its highest level since 1928.
"Though the pie to be shared by the next generation will be far larger than today's, how it will be divided will remain fiercely contentious … Clashes of that sort have forever been with us — and will forever continue. Congress will be the battlefield; money and votes will be the weapons. Lobbying will remain a growth industry," Buffett wrote. "For 240 years it's been a terrible mistake to bet against America, and now is no time to start."