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Buffett, Gates, and Adelson: Billionaires prod Congress on immigration reform

Together, they’re worth a combined $184.3 billion – enough to cover the VA’s budget for more than a year.

So when Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Sheldon Adelson speak out on one of the most pressing social and political issues of the day – immigration – people tend to listen.

Whether or not that includes members of Congress is another matter, even though Messrs. Buffett, Gates, and Adelson all have been campaign donors. Lawmakers are far from any agreement on immigration reform, and they’re now fighting over what to do about thousands of migrant children streaming illegally into the US.

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Writing in The New York Times this week, the three men used themselves as an example of the kind of bipartisan compromise needed to address immigration.

“The three of us vary in our politics and would differ also in our preferences about the details of an immigration reform bill,” they wrote. “But we could without a doubt come together to draft a bill acceptable to each of us.”

“You don’t have to agree on everything in order to cooperate on matters about which you are reasonably close to agreement,” they wrote, casting an obvious eye toward a Congress that seems more intent on scoring political points than on accomplishing anything of lasting value. “It’s time that this brand of thinking finds its way to Washington.”

Last year, the Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform with strong bipartisan support (68-32), but the bill has languished in the Republican-led House. 

“Whatever the precise provisions of a law, it’s time for the House to draft and pass a bill that reflects both our country’s humanity and its self-interest,” Buffett, Gates, and Adelson instructed. “Differences with the Senate should be hammered out by members of a conference committee, committed to a deal.”

Recently, another powerful wealthy businessman weighed in along similar lines.

“I don’t believe that people come to America to sit on their hands,” Rupert Murdoch wrote in The Wall Street Journal (which he owns). “The vast majority of America’s immigrants are hardworking, family-minded individuals with strong values.”

As for this week’s three news-making billionaires, Bloomberg News points out their political differences:

Adelson, 80, and his wife, Miriam, have been major donors to Republican candidates for years. They pumped $15 million into a super-political action committee backing former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign in 2012, according to data compiled by the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics. They later gave $20 million to the super-PAC supporting the eventual Republican nominee, Mitt Romney.

Buffett, 83, has given money largely to Democrats over the years, including more than $200,000 to Obama and the Democratic National Committee since Obama first ran for president, according to Federal Election Commission records. He has also cultivated relationships with Republicans as he encouraged compromise on political issues.

Gates, 58, has donated money to members of both parties and a variety of causes, including efforts to support gay marriage.

But when it comes to the need for immigration reform, Buffett, Gates, and Adelson set such differences aside.

“A Congress that does nothing about these problems is extending an irrational policy by default; that is, if lawmakers don’t act to change it, it stays the way it is, irrational,” they wrote. “The current stalemate – in which greater pride is attached to thwarting the opposition than to advancing the nation’s interests – is depressing to most Americans and virtually all of its business managers. The impasse certainly depresses the three of us.”

They concluded their New York Times op-ed with a reminder that lawmakers in Washington are the political hired help:

“It’s time for 535 of America’s citizens [members of the US House and Senate] to remember what they owe to the 318 million who employ them.”

Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by David Farrar on 07/14/2014 - 12:56 pm.


    There IS no way to build a secure our borders while Washington creates incentives for those who would cross our borders illegally. This is not an opinion, but a fact gained by experience since 1986.

    There IS no way to stop illegal immigration by creating incentives for those who would cross our borders illegally. This is not an opinion, but a fact gained by experience since 1986.

    There IS no way to enforce our immigration laws while creating incentives for those who would break those laws. This is not an opinion, but a fact gained by experience since 1986.

    Stop creating incentives and the problem will eventually go away without spending billions we don’t have on border security we don’t need.

    For a good explanation on what really is happening on our southern borders, listen to Bill Whittle in his commentary video: “Where do you live Mark Zuckerberg”? (

    ex animo

  2. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 07/14/2014 - 03:20 pm.

    The problem is Obama

    When Obama chose to enforce portions of his health insurance law, ignore or change some parts and delay still others, it became apparent to congressional republicans and their supporters that Obama can’t be trusted.

    The only way to deal with a president who can’t be trusted to enforce the laws he signs is to avoid “comprehensive” bills like the senate version of immigration reform and focus instead on several smaller pieces of legislation, each one predicated on the successful implementation of the one prior.

    Start with a bill to close the border and we’ll see how that goes.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 07/14/2014 - 05:07 pm.

      Funny stuff….

      the GOP pouting that Obama won’t enforce a law that they’ve voted 51 times to repeal. You can’t make it up…
      Obama has deported twice as many illegals than Bush did in his entire tow terms.

      • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 07/14/2014 - 08:27 pm.

        No he hasn’t

        Obama now includes in his “deportation” statistics, people who they turn away at the border.

  3. Submitted by jason myron on 07/15/2014 - 11:31 am.


    you mean the borders aren’t really a sieve and people aren’t flooding over here to vote for Democrats after all? Get your story straight…and check your statistics.

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