Debunking Warren Buffett’s quick-fix Congressional plan

Snopes has taken down an alleged proposition that would make all sitting members of Congress ineligible for re-election if the deficit was more than 3 percent of the GDP.


Justin Franz


Published Dec 5, 2012   Updated Jun 2, 2021, 6:09 am CDT

Oh how we wish it were true. But – like the recent Facebook copyright hoax – Warren Buffett’s plan to fix our fractured government is just another viral Internet spoof.

With Congress and President Barack Obama staring each other down in front of the proclaimed “fiscal cliff,” an old email and social media hoax is again making the rounds. This time it proclaims Warren Buffett, the “Oracle of Omaha,” has proposed a 28th Constitutional amendment that would make any member of Congress ineligible for reelection if the deficit is more than 3 percent of the gross domestic product. The email goes on to say that the so-called “Congressional Reform Act of 2012” would give no tenure or pension to legislators, that they would only collect a salary while in office, that they participate in Social Security, have to purchase their own retirement plan, can’t vote themselves a pay raise, must participate in the same health care system the American people do, and must equally abide by all laws.

Great idea, right? Well, according to, it’s not all true. Unfortunately for those of us who are tired of our uncles sending this proposal every year, no one has read the Snopes post, which in 2011 called it “mostly false.”

Buffett did tell CNBC in 2011 that Congress needed to work harder. On July 11, he said: “I could end the deficit in five minutes. You just pass a law that says that anytime there’s a deficit of more than 3 percent of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election. Yeah, yeah, now you’ve got the incentives in the right place, right?”

The email usually goes on to say that Buffett reasons the amendment could easily pass because the 26th Amendment (that’s the one that gives you 18-year-olds the right to vote) passed in just three months. Why? “Because the people demanded it,” Buffett supposedly says. Of course, passing a new amendment isn’t as easy as it sounds, as again points out. An amendment must be passed through both the House and Senate with a two-thirds vote and then ratified by the states. States could also call a constitutional convention, but that’s never happened.

So, next time you find a proposal from Warren Buffett in your email, let the sender know that it’s just another hoax – one that will undoubtedly outlive this “fiscal cliff” crisis.

Photo via the White House/Flickr

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*First Published: Dec 5, 2012, 10:12 am CST