Multi-millionaires also back Obama ahead of election

November 3rd, 2008 - 10:23 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaBy Liliana Martinez-Scarpellini Los Angeles, Nov 3 (DPA) Barack Obama has promised to increase taxes if he becomes president of the United States. But the really rich want change and many of them have said they are voting for the senator from Illinois.Despite the tradition that says the country’s wealthy tend to favour the Republican Party, there has been an unexpected swing ahead of Tuesday’s election that favours the black Democratic candidate.

For starters, the country’s two richest men, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, have already said they will vote for Obama. According to Forbes magazine, Gates - worth an estimated $55.5 billion - contributed $2,300 to the Democrat’s campaign in the primaries.

Like the founder of software giant Microsoft, Buffett - the richest man in the world, worth some $58 billion and who is also an advisor to the Democratic candidate - donated $4,600 to Obama’s campaign, the maximum amount allowed by law.

In an interview with financial news channel CNBC, the investor and CEO of the holding Berkshire Hathaway, confirmed he prefers Obama to McCain because he can identify himself better with the Democrat’s proposed economic policies.

“(McCain) has too many ideas that are different than I do, particular in terms of what I would call social justice,” Buffett noted.

He supports Obama despite the Democrat’s intention, should he become president, to increase taxes on five percent of the richest US citizens. Obama has jokingly referred to his “friend Warren” as someone who can pay a little more tax without it changing his life.

However, the wealthy are not unanimous in their support for Obama.

Almost half of those who appear on Forbes’ list - among the 10 richest people in the US - are supporting his Republican rival.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, three members of the Walton family who own Wal-Mart, and the Koch brothers who are manufacturing and energy tycoons have made donations to McCain.

There are also special cases such as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who gave money to Republican Rudolf Giuliani - his predecessor as mayor - in the primaries, but has later shown support for both candidates finally running for the White House.

This independent politician, who has favoured both the Democratic and the Republican parties at various times in the past, seems to prefer Obama’s economic plan to McCain’s.

Bloomberg has said he is looking for someone who is beyond party lines, who can solve complex matters and has thought ahead to the legislative process and how to finance specific programmes. However, he gave no names.

Like Bloomberg, many multi-millionaires prefer to keep their political preferences to themselves.

According to the Huffington Post, only three other people in the list of the 50 wealthiest US citizens have openly revealed their political choice.

Two of them were Republicans and one was a Democrat.

Other sources, however, indicate that wealthy neighbourhoods show a preference for Obama.

According to campaign finance details, it was Obama who raised the most funds on Wall Street. Before the current financial crisis broke out, investment bankers had already made their contributions to the senator from Illinois, who beat both Hillary Clinton and Giuliani in this fundraising effort.

In Silicon Valley there is a similar dynamic: Big players support Obama. Apple and Google want to see him as president. Apple founder Steve Jobs appears to be honouring a political tradition, while Google CEO Eric Schmidt announced his support for the Democrat just recently, and even planned to go on the campaign trail for him.

In the San Francisco Bay area, Obama visited the mansions of several multi-millionaires - Sara and Sohaib Abbasi, Nancy and Bob Farese, and Ann and Gordon Getty - in April.

The wealthy organized fundraisers for $2,300 per person.

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