Berkshire Hathaway chairman Warren Buffett supported Barack Obama during the presidential campaign, and one of his insurance companies, Geico, was one of the advertisers on last night's ABC Obama-Care special. So it is interesting to see the Oracle of Omaha expressing skepticism of some of the Obama administration's initiatives and claims. In an interview yesterday on CNBC, Mr. Buffett pretty much rejected Treasury Secretary Geither's claim that the global economy has begin to turn around. Mr. Buffett said, in essence, "it hasn't happened yet." He also suggested it was a mistake for the administration to turn its attention away from jobs and the economy and toward health care: "they've turned their sights to other problems, but this problem is not yet solved. And it's the most important problem we have." He expressed skepticism about the overhaul of financial regulations: "it's in human nature to go to excess. And it's very hard, in a country of 300-million people and a 14-trillion dollar GDP and all of that, to set up a set of rules that will prevent excesses in a market system." He bridled a bit at how the government set the terms of its loan to Wells Fargo under the TARP: "the government set the terms on it. They [Wells Fargo] just signed a blank piece of paper." He also complained about the cap-and-trade plan for emissions: "it's a huge tax and there's no sense calling it anything else. I mean, it is a tax. And it's a fairly regressive tax."
The last time Mr. Buffett was critical of Mr. Obama, the Washington Post Company's Mickey Kaus drily noted that it was the first time the mainstream media had ever ignored Warren Buffett.
No one's under any illusions that Mr. Buffett's criticisms are made out of principle as opposed to "talking his book" -- he's an investor in utilities that would be affected by cap-and-trade, and he's a Wells Fargo shareholder. But they are worth noting nonetheless.